VR headsets could come with SMS integration

We’re all well aware that texts can effectively reach people wherever they are, but a new development will enable those even in the virtual world to still pick up their messages.

Virtual reality (VR) is big business, with companies scrambling over one another to be the first to release gaming headsets that provide wearers with a more immersive experience than ever before. When wearing these headsets, gamers can feel as though they’re actually part of their virtual scenery, instead of just watching it on a screen.

Far from being a way to blot out the real world, though, these headsets could soon deliver updates into the virtual surrounds, to ensure consumers don’t miss an all-important phone call or text.

Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer HTC is one of the companies releasing a device this year – the Vive. It promises to do everything that the big VR players offer, but with the addition of its ‘Vive Phone Services’, which enables users to pair their headsets with their smartphones to merge certain features. Wearers will then be able to respond to calls (both incoming and missed), read text messages, reply to them and check their calendar.

Whilst this could be seen as a minor positive for companies using SMS – as their messages will always get through – the potential could, in fact, be massive. For example, texts could be triggered once consumers reach a certain point within a game. For example, it could be for them to take a break once a certain playing time has been reached, or even to buy memorabilia they’ve unlocked by progressing sufficiently through the game.

In future, the entire game itself could have an SMS-based element, as publishers team up with mobile operators to make the experience even more immersive.

HTC is the first major headset manufacturer to announce this mobile interoperability, though others may soon follow. According to TrendForce, the VR industry is set to grow by 40 per cent in the next four years, making the number of headset shipments a staggering 38 million. The industry is already worth $6.7 billion (£4.76 billion) – though the figure is almost certain to grow.

Vive is set for release in April, just over a month after Facebook begins shipping its Oculus Rift device. They’ll come at a cost, though, with Vive thought to set early adopters back more than £550, whilst Oculus Rift will be slightly cheaper at nearer £400.

Speaking ahead of the launch, HTC chairwoman and CEO Cher Wang told cbronline.com: “Since announcing Vive this time last year, we have worked tirelessly with Valve to deliver the vest VR experience on the market.

“With the Vive consumer edition we are now able to realise our ultimate vision; bringing Vive into homes around the globe so that people can experience immersive virtual reality in a way that fires the imagination and truly changes the world.”