HTC Vive targets classrooms with new bundle

While it has primarily been viewed as a gaming device, HTC Vive has made no secret of its ambitions to showcase its Vive VR headset as an education device. Now the company is making a push into the education space with the launch of a new bundle.

At this week’s Vive Ecosystem Conference in Shenzhen, China, the company announced the Vive Group Edition bundle, which includes ten Business Edition headsets with two Business Edition base stations for 49,999 yuan (about $7,260), with shipments expected in May. The bundle offers a saving of about 40 per cent when compared to buying ten full business edition kits, which means that schools and small businesses will be more likely to afford them. 

What you might have noticed though is that the bundle is missing controllers and extra base stations. The reason for this, the company says, originates from the growing desire for multi-user VR solutions. The way to provide this without breaking the bank without too much compromise is by providing a few headsets and two base stations per room.

Customers have the option to add controllers to their purchase, which would open up more opportunities and applications. HTC Vive however assured Engadget that the kit without controllers is perfectly adequate for educational purposes such as watching a video or going on a virtual tour.

One issue that has been of a concern – the safety of VR for children’s eyes – was also addressed by HTC Vive’s China President Alvin Wang Graylin who said that it had partnered with the Beijing Institute of Technology to study the effects of the tech on a group of children. After 20 minutes of using a VR headset, 8 per cent reported worse vision, with 72 per cent unchanged. Remarkably, 20 per cent said that their eyesight had actually improved as a result. A second test involving tablets for the same period of time found that 11.5 per cent reported worse eyesight, with Graylin suggesting that using VR in the classroom is actually healthier than using tablets. 

The company says that "dozens" of schools have partnered with it to bring the tech into the classroom, and HTC Vive says that its aggressive expansion plans means that it aims to be in "hundreds or even thousands" of schools by the end of the year. 

Unfortunately the big caveat to all of this is that the Vive Group Edition bundle is currently exclusive to China. Should this scheme prove to be a success though, it would not be a surprise to see similar bundles rolling out across the world. 

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