Expect to upgrade your VR headset as often as your smartphone

Waiting on a next-generation virtual reality headset? According to a senior HTC executive, you might not have to wait as long as you may first have thought, given how long the first wave of VR hardware took to get to market.

Speaking to RoadtoVR.com HTC’s China Regional President of Vive, Alvin Wang Graylin, suggested that the lifespan of VR hardware will sit somewhere between our expectations of smartphones and console cycles.

In other words, that's around every two to three years between HTC Vive, PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift releases, should each device prove continuously successful.   

Upgrading reality

“Instead of looking at just the phone market – which is one type of very rapid consumer product – if you look at the other segment, which is the consoles, they’re about five or six-year type of cycles,” said Graylin. 

“What I would imagine is that the VR headsets are probably somewhere in between, probably tending closer toward the phone cycles than to the console cycles, but it’s definitely not as quick [as the early smartphone era] with the major updates.”

In order to tide us over between generations, we can expect to see increased use of accessories to enhance and augment existing virtual reality experiences.

"The thing that you’re seeing is that we’ve created a good foundational platform for people to build things on," added Graylin. "Changing it too quickly will actually make it very difficult for developers, make it difficult for accessory makers and for other types of systems that rely on it."

HTC has already started work down this path, using the recent CES 2017 showcase to reveal its HTC Vive Tracker, an add-on that can effectively turn any item into a VR-trackable object.

Gerald Lynch

Gerald is Editor-in-Chief of iMore.com. Previously he was the Executive Editor for TechRadar, taking care of the site's home cinema, gaming, smart home, entertainment and audio output. He loves gaming, but don't expect him to play with you unless your console is hooked up to a 4K HDR screen and a 7.1 surround system. Before TechRadar, Gerald was Editor of Gizmodo UK. He is also the author of 'Get Technology: Upgrade Your Future', published by Aurum Press.