Virtual Reality is no longer a thing of the future – it’s happening now. More brands are jumping into the VR circle with newer, more advanced headsets every day. This time around, it’s HTC. I received an invitation to be among the first in the region to try their new Vive Live VR headset. The device is not consumer ready yet but it’s on tour to tease tech aficionados around the world. I took it for a spin at the IGN Convention in Abu Dhabi. Here are my thoughts…

As I mentioned above, it’s not market ready so the aesthetics aren’t “perfect”…yet. Although nice design features shine through, the version I used had exposed wires that connected it to a PC and it was quite heavy; heavier than the Samsung VR. I was able to try three demos which were all different and set the stage for the endless variety of things that Vive Live can be used for.

HTC Vive Live Headset

HTC Vive Live Headset

First up was an underwater scene. From my perspective I was standing onboard a shipwreck with elements of the sea all around me. I felt like I was submerged in water. There were fish swimming by, bits of coral reef floating and everything else you’d expect to find in the ocean. When I looked at my hands, which were holding joysticks, they appeared translucent, like objects floating in the water. And, when a massive whale swam towards me, my heart rate increased as I darted to the right to avoid a collision. The simulation felt that real!

Next up was the cooking game. Did I mention that I’m not a gamer? Well, I’m not. But this experience was fun. As a wife and mother of two, I spend a considerable amount of time in the kitchen and sometimes I loathe being in there. So how did they make this appealing? They timed it. The computer simulated a kitchen outfitted with counter tops, a refrigerator, stove and food items. My task was to complete a recipe within a certain time frame. The first set of directions appeared before me. It read, “Add 2 tomatoes”. The tomatoes were on the counter next to the stove so that was an easy grab. As I maneuvered the joysticks to grab the tomatoes, I noticed that they now appeared as two hands. Nice touch. I grabbed each tomato, added them to the pot and the next directions appeared – “Add milk”. I had to look around to locate the fridge which was to my left. I touched the door handle with my virtual hand and the door disappeared revealing all of the contents in the refrigerator. I grabbed the milk and poured some in the pot but nothing happened after that. The game didn’t advance but my time was still ticking away. The gentleman running the demo whispered, “Add more milk”. I poured more and viola, the game advanced. Quite a little nuance there to make things interesting. I continued following directions, retrieving and adding ingredients until my time ran out. I didn’t beat the clock but I’d surely play this game again.

HTC Vive Live Headset and Joystick

HTC Vive Live Headset and Joystick

The final demo was tech and Sci-Fi all wrapped into one. My task…robot repair. This was another timed exercise but it was far more technical. The setting was a huge warehouse clad with cement and metal. There was a robot sharing the space with me as well as a wall of drawers that contained spare parts. There were doors and levers and buttons and code-like text scrolling in front of me. Imagine being Tony Stark, a highly proficient scientist and Engineer, in a remote underground, state-of-the-art location to repair your Iron Man suit. That’s what this simulation felt like. But, I’m not an Engineer so when I missed a step and my robot malfunctioned causing the warehouse to disintegrate, my heart raced again. I quickly moved backwards as I watched the cement tile floor drop from under my feet. I dodged the vortex that consumed my broken robot. I narrowly escaped the trap door that locked the warehouse down forever which also brought the game to an end. I went through all of this physically and emotionally in response to what I saw around me. All the while I was standing in a small square box with black walls and the two guys working the simulation. Epic.

Me, during the simulation

Me, during the simulation

Want to try it out for yourself? Catch HTC Vive Live on tour.