VR fitness is the future, baby! But there’s one major problem: sweat. As fun as fitness games can be, it’s less fun if sweat keeps trickling into your eyeball during an intense session, and properly cleaning a headset afterward can be annoying. All this makes the leaked HTC Vive Air intriguing
The concept headset, which was leaked by the World Design Guide awards (via Engadget), is specifically meant for fitness games and “optimized for high intensity with long use.” According to a brief descriptor of the product, the headset itself is made from an “innovative lightweight” structure and knitted materials that improve ventilation and dry quickly. There’s also a quick-release mechanism that lets you remove the “soft components” for washing.
Yes, please. While headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 make fitness games less cumbersome by removing the cords and making the headset lighter, it’s still not ideal for fitness. You’ve got porous foam padding, which is a sweat magnet, and the only real solution is either getting a sports-friendly barrier mask or being diligent about wiping your stuff down with antibacterial wipes and letting them naturally air dry. No one wants a stinky VR headset, especially if you intend on using it for other, non-sweaty games. Adding a more breathable material that you could also potentially throw in the wash seems like a no-brainer.
Given that these images are only renders, there’s no way to tell how light this HTC Vive Air headset would be. (Though calling any product “Air” implies it’s really freaking light.) I’m not saying I want to do full-blown HIIT workouts complete with tuck jumps in VR. That sounds... dangerous. But it does open the possibility for more dynamic movements (pop squats or mountain climbers, perhaps?) without things feeling too heavy or bulky.
As nice as it would be, it looks like we’ll have to temper expectations a bit. While the World Design Guide page says the device will launch in 2021, an HTC spokesperson told Engadget it was “only a concept” but that “elements and inspirations” from the design would make their way into other HTC products. That said, I’m still waiting—and will likely be waiting forever—for a VR headset that won’t look quite so stupid while working out.