HTC’s new headset has leaked and it’ll make you look like a bug

On Monday, I wrote about leaked details of an unannounced HTC Vive Flow VR headset that’s expected to be announced at an event on Thursday. Just one day later, we now know what it looks like thanks to images shared by prolific leaker Evan Blass, who has been actively posting new photos over the course of the evening.

Here’s the first batch:

Overall, the images in Blass’ first tweet match many of the details reported by Protocol on Monday, but they give a much better idea of what the final device may look like. (And I’m just going to say it: the leaked promo kind of makes the wearers look like bugs.) It’s hard to tell if the big yellowish spots on the front of the headset are see-through; but if you look closely, it appears there may be cameras embedded in the front of the device.

The first leaked photos appear to indicate that the headset will be tethered via a wire to some kind of tube-shaped device, which will perhaps provide a little extra power to the headset (similar to the original Magic Leap). Another set of images leaked by Blass shows that it does have internal processing (and a blower-style cooling fan) too, though:

Conspicuously, there doesn’t appear to be a head strap in these images of the Vive Flow. Most headsets that people find comfortable balance their weight using some kind of strap, so we’ll have to try the Vive Pro for ourselves to see if HTC has figured out a way to make Vive Pro pleasant to wear without one.

The new headset also has an extremely close resemblance to HTC’s “Project Proton,” a prototype mixed reality device the company revealed in February 2020 with a similarly buggy-eyed design and a similar possibility of being tethered to a pack. It’s unclear if the Vive Flow is the final retail evolution of that Proton, but it seems like a strong possibility.

One iteration of HTC’s “Project Proton” prototype, from February 2020.
Image: HTC

If you want to learn more about the Vive Flow, you might not have long to wait, as the company will be hosting an event on Thursday with the coincidental tagline “Go with the Flow.” Earlier Tuesday morning, HTC teased a very brief look at what will be announced there — while it’s hard to tell if it matches the leaked renders from Blass, it sure does look like a VR headset of some kind.

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