HTC integrates the U12 Plus smartphone with the Vive Focus VR headset

The integration is part of HTC's efforts to expand its VR ecosystem; HTC also announced VR partnerships with MLB, a Formula One team and Seagate.

htcvive.jpg

HTC is announcing that with the latest Vive Focus system update, the Vive Focus standalone VR headset will be able to integrate with the new HTC U12 Plus smartphone. This will enable users to receive messages and social notifications and to take calls on their U12 Plus smartphones without taking off their headsets.

The integration was announced at HTC's annual Vive Ecosystem Conference (VEC) in Shenzhen, China. In a statement, Alvin Wang Graylin, the China Regional President of HTC, said this year's conference marks "the beginning of a new chapter for HTC as we combine our heritage of innovation in the mobile sector with our industry leadership in the VR/AR field."

HTC is announcing several other steps it's taking to expand the VR ecosystem surrounding its Vive products, including partnerships with multiple major brands: Major League Baseball, Formula One and Seagate.

HTC rolled out the U12 Plus flagship phone earlier this week. To enable the U12 Plus and Vive Focus integration, users will soon be able to download the Vive Focus System Update 2.0 from the HTC official app store or the Tencent app store. Users will also be able to connect their smartphones to PC-based Vive devices.

The announcements delivered at the conference also included new ways to share content between HTC devices. The Vive Focus system update will let users stream content from the U12 Plus to the Vive Focus -- opening up a new way to consume video content, games and millions of mobile applications. Additionally, HTC announced that Vive Focus users will be able to access PC VR content from Viveport or Steam via a 5GHz Wi-Fi network.

Meanwhile, HTC also plans to expand the Oasis Beta VR application, enabling users to create customized avatars and to meet people in a new "social area." The company is asking developers to join "The Oasis Expansion: program and submit applications for future inclusion in the Oasis Beta world.

The announced partnerships, HTC said, should help drive mass adoption of VR and AR. MLB is partnering with HTC on a series of collaborations in China, aiming to use VR to create a bigger baseball fanbase there. VR elements will be incorporated into two initiatives -- MLB's Baseball Park roadshow, as well as the "Perfect Pitch" reality TV show on the Tencent video network.

HTC also announced it's collaborating with the Formula One team McLaren to jointly produce VR products and VR/AR content.

As for its partnership with Seagate, HTC announced the Seagate "VR Power Drive" has been optimized for the Vive Focus. This will double the battery life of the Vive Focus and give users access to massive amounts of media storage. The device, also compatible with the U12 Plus, will ship in Q3 this year.

"In the years to come, we will continue to cooperate with HTC, and further optimize storage solutions according to the characteristics of VR applications to better meet the special data needs of the Vive products and bring Vive users the optimal experience at home or on the road," Jim Murphy, EVP of worldwide sales & marketing for Seagate, said in a statement.