HTC Launches VIVE Wave Unified Platform For PC-Free VR

Developers in the US can now take advantage of HTC VIVE's WAVE SDK open-source platform for developers called, according to a recent announcement from the company. For clarity, that's HTC's development platform that brings Android-powered experiences such as those on offer through Google's Daydream program together under the already successful VIVE branding. It supports standalone and smartphone tethered devices as well to those headsets that require an Android device to be slotted in, standardizing the experience of developing experiences across all of those. Moreover, it provides an additional five SDKs on top of the standard VIVE Wave SDK right out of the box. The primary SDK enables developers to take a project from start to finish with a variety of features on top of enabling fine control over 3DOF and 6DOF head and controller tracking and finished products with less than 20ms of motion to photon latency.

Background: This new developer kit was initially launched in China in November 2017 along with the company's HTC VIVE Focus standalone VR headset. The underlying goal in that region, as with the latest launch, is to centralize the mobile VR market. That's a goal that's at least partially enabled by the fact that Wave SDK completely open-source. That means developers can essentially develop a project once and have it work on any standalone or Android-powered VR product, massively extending their available audience while still having access to the tools already in use for generating those experiences.

The kit enables stereo rendering with Asynchronous TimeWarp, single-buffer V-Sync scheduled rendering, strip rendering, lens distortion and chromatic aberration correction, predictive tracking, 2D system overlays, and a safety virtual wall. Beyond that, the new platform also allows third-party controllers, cameras, and other hardware add-ons to be included in a software build. Although that's already a fairly robust set of features to include in a developer kit, that's not including the built-in SDKs available to ensure that experiences will work across the board. For starters, Wave OEM SDK is intended to make it easy for hardware developers to easily incorporate support for the platform at the system level. Meanwhile, Wave Native (Android) SDK, Wave Unity SDK, and Wave UE4 SDK are self-explanatory. The latter two enable seamless incorporation with Unity and Unreal Engine 4, respectively, while the Native SDK enables the VR functionality found in native Android-based VR development. Finally, Wave PluginKit SDK is a developer kit specifically for accessory and peripheral makers, allowing drivers to be installed via a simple APK installation

Impact: With the US-specific platform announcement, porting experiences from existing platforms such as Samsung's Galaxy Gear VR or Daydream will become a much more simplified task for developers in the region. In fact, the company says that process can take as little as a few hours or a week with Wave SDK. The combined effect of all of that is that developers won't need to learn new tools, set up entirely new builds from scratch, or put in months of effort but will be able to move their products across the vast majority of available VR platforms. With regard to end users, the net effect should be that more VR content will become rapidly available and that it won't really matter which supported hardware they've chosen, with VIVE Wave SDK

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