HTC announces virtual reality headset and wearable band

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HTC Vive will be on sale to consumers later this year while manufacturer also launches fitness wearable

HTC surprised the industry at Mobile World Congress with the announcement of a virtual reality headset that will be released later this year.

The HTC Vive is a partnership between the smartphone manufacturer and gaming company Valve.

HTC chief executive officer Peter Chou (pictured) told the press conference launching its latest flagship smartphone, the HTC One M9, that the VR headset would deliver the most immersive VR experience on the market. He predicted that VR would be a “mainstream consumer technology” within a few years.

The announcement drew audible gasps from assembled media and analysts.

Vive has 50 sensors and HTC has also partnered with a number of other gaming and content partners, such as Google and HBO, to develop content for the platform. A developer edition will be available from next month.

Chou called virtual reality a “once in a generation” technology and said it will change the way humans take in live music, learn history, shop and play games forever.

No details on pricing were made available.

He also revealed a wearable fitness band called HTC Grip which it has developed in partnership with sports app provider, Under Armour.

Grip has five sensors including GPS and Chou says it is suitable for all forms of exercise including running, cycling, walking and going to the gym.

Chou described the wearable as your own “personal fitness coach” saying it will provide detailed feedback and coaching to users.

It will also provide smartphone notifications to users and allow them to reply to messages with preset messages such as, “I’ll call you later”.

Grip will only be available in the US initially with Chou saying it was the first of a number of products that the company will be developing and releasing.

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