Tech
EnlargeDenisKot / Getty

The nonprofit Internet Society attracted widespread condemnation late last year after announcing it was going to sell off the Public Interest Registry, a subsidiary that administers the .org domain, to a private equity firm called Ethos Capital. People were particularly alarmed because the move came shortly after ICANN removed price caps on registration and renewal fees for .org domains. That opened the prospect of big price hikes in the coming years.

In a Friday press release, Ethos Capital announced it would voluntarily commit to limit price hikes for the next eight years. But under the new rules, Ethos Capital would still be able to raise prices by 10 percent a year—which would more than double prices over the next eight years. Ethos framed this as a concession to the public, and strictly speaking, a 10 percent price hike limit is better for customers than completely uncapped fees. But 10 percent annual increases are still massive—far more than inflation or plausible increases in the cost of running the infrastructure powering the .org registry.

For comparison, ICANN recently announced that Verisign, the company that administers the .com domain, will be allowed to raise prices by 7 percent per year over the next decade, except for a two-year "pause" after four years of hikes. Those changes, adding up to a 70-percent price hike over 10 years, was enough to trigger alarm among domain registrars who must pass these fees on to their customers.

Ethos Capital's proposed limits are also much more than historical increases in the .org fee. The maximum fee charged by the Public Interest Registry for a domain registration has risen from $6 at the end of 2006 to $9.93 today—an annual growth rate of less than 5 percent.

It's true that past ICANN agreements with the Public Interest Registry—including the ones in 2006 and Read More – Source

Tech

Activity Thursday at SpaceX's launch site near Boca Chica Beach.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk said Thursday the company is "driving hard" toward an orbital flight of the company's Starship vehicle this year.

It has not been decided yet whether this orbital launch will take place from the company's new facility near Boca Chica Beach in South Texas, a site at Cape Canaveral in Florida, or perhaps even an ocean-based launch platform. The company is pressing ahead with all three options in parallel. The orbital mission would involve a future iteration of Starship with six Raptor engines, Musk said.

Since late November, when the very first prototype of a Starship vehicle was damaged during a pressurization test, SpaceX employees have been working on a new version of the vehicle dubbed SN1, for serial number 1. The company has gone with this nomenclature because Musk envisions building the large spaceships rapidly, with each new iteration improving on the last—be it through smoother manufacturing processes, shedding unneeded mass, improving performance, or more.

"Building many rockets allows for successive approximation," Musk said on Twitter, applying a simple equation to the process: progress in any given technology is the number of iterations multiplied by progress between iterations.

Videos recently shot from public roads through the Boca Chica site show the company has made demonstrable progress with its SN1 vehicle, having begun to stack its various components. This rocket could be rolled to the launch site about a mile away from the factory later this month, with fueling tests possibly beginning in early March, followed by a static fire test. If all goes well, SN1 could attempt a test flight as high as 20km later this spring, although SpaceX has not yet obtained a launch permit from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The SN1 vehicle will not attempt the orbital flight, however, as that will come from future iterations. Musk said his best guess for the orbital flight test vehicle will be SN3, SN4, or even SN5. "This is very rapid iteration," he said.

Failing to go fast

Under this approach to the design of spaceflight hardware, there will undoubtedly be more setbacks like the November accident. But SpaceX is willing to tolerate some failure to go fast. With "iterative design" the company builds vehicles, tests them, and flies them as quickly as possible. This approach strongly contrasts with more traditional aerospace, in which years are spent refining a vehicle's design before building a vehicle. This typically results in fewer explosions but requires a lot more time and funding.

Musk explained that iteration in the Falcon 9 rocket program slowed down between 2010 and 2018 as its payloads for NASA and commercial customers became "too important" to risk. However, during the early phase of the Starship program, SpaceX Read More – Source

Tech
EnlargeToTok.ai

In late December, Google and Apple removed the ToTok social messaging app from their marketplaces after US intelligence officials told The New York Times it was a tool for surreptitious spying by the United Arab Emirates government. About a week later, Google reinstated the Android version of the app with no explanation, a move that confounded app users and security experts. Now Google has once again baffled industry watchers by once again banishing the app without saying why. (Apple, meanwhile, has continued to keep the iOS version of ToTok out of the App Store.)

Enlarge@sooohaib

Over the past few days, Play Protect, the Google service that scans Android devices for apps that violate the companys terms of service, started displaying a warning that says: “This app tries to spy on your personal data, such as SMS messages, photos, audio recordings, or call history. Even if you have heard of this app or the app developer, this version of the app could harm your device.”

The message, displayed to the right, then gives the user the option to either “uninstall” or “keep app (unsafe).”

Google has declined to comment to me or any other reporters seeking the reason for this strange series of back-and-forth moves. In the vacuum, commentators have offered all kinds of theories for Googles rationale.

“Is this where the tinfoil hat of rampant speculation comes out?” asked information security professional Ben Montour on Twitter. “UAE friendly insider on app approval team? Allowed it back, was caught and it was pulled again?”

@Metacurity @Bing_Chris Is this where the tinfoil hat of rampant speculation comes out? UAE friendly insider on app approval team? Allowed it back, was caught and it was pulled again?

— Ben Montour (@benmontour) February 20, 2020

Ill be watching you

In the months leading up its initial removal, ToTok received millions of downloads from Play and the App Store combined. The iOS app alone had more than 32,000 user reviews, most of them favorable. Its possible many of the downloads and reviews were part of a UAE-sponsored astroturf campaign designed to increase the favorable visibility of the app, but its likely much of the popularity was genuine. The UAE government had already restricted use of rival apps, such as Skype and WhatsApp, a move that made ToTok more appealing to those communicating with people inside the country.

The initial removals by Google and Apple came within days of the New York Times article, which said the UAE government was using ToTok to “try to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound, and image of those who install it on their phones.”

An independent analysis by macOS and iOS security expert Patrick Wardle confirmed that the iOS-version of ToTok did in fact collect the entire address book and upload it to a server connected to the ToTok domain. That activity happened only when users gave the app permission to access their contacts, but granting such rights is an expected and standard practice for those using messaging apps.

“Basically [app developers] didn't have to add any malicious code to the app (on the phone),” Wardle, who is a security researcher at the macOS and iOS enterprise management firm Jamf, told me on Thursday. “Just ban all other apps in the UAE, offer a free alternative, push it via the (state) media/fake reviews and make sure all in-app comms (msgs, videos, images, etc. etc.) are routed through their servers (with no E2E encryption). Then once you identify targets/ppl of interest, you throw/use your iOS/Android 0days against just those handful of targets. It's really a lovely approach… well, from their point of view.”

A zeroday is an attack that exploits a software vulnerability thats unknown to the developer. Weaponized zeroday exploits—meaning they reliably and stealthily hack devices and arent easily detected—often cost large sums of money. The UAE has been suspected of using an expensive iOS zeroday in 2016 in an attempt to hack the iPhone of a political dissident in that country.

“Resolute in our innocenceRead More – Source

Tech

BERLIN — Germany is cracking down on hate speech online amid a rise in right-wing extremism, but critics warn that civil liberties will end up as collateral damage.

Hours before a far-right extremist shot nine people dead at two hookah bars in central Germany on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkels government passed the first of two laws to further toughen its rules — already considered some of the worlds strictest — governing speech online.

“Hate crimes should finally end up where they belong — in court,” said the Social Democrat Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht after the bill was approved by the government.

The draft law will force social media companies to proactively report potentially criminal content on their platforms to law enforcement.

While Lambrechts government argues the measures are needed to counter a rise in right-wing extremism proliferating online, however, an unlikely alliance of opponents are sounding the alarm on potential damages to civil liberties.

Berlins hate speech law provides a major test case of cracking down on hate speech online.

“There is no question that our society has a problem with right-wing extremism and hate speech,” said Elisabeth Niekrenz of Berlin-based civil liberties organization Digitale Gesellschaft (Digital Society), “which deeply worries me. But the measures presented [by Lambrecht] infringe peoples right to informational self-determination, open the door for more surveillance, grant law enforcement more powers to intervene and allow for more data collection.”

Niekrenzs organization is one of 13 signatories of an open letter to Lambrecht earlier this month which called the new hate speech rules “an enormous danger to civil liberties.” Other signatories include Germanys journalists union, the German Informatics Society, as well as lobbying organizations for the tech industry such as the Association of the Internet Industry (eco), which counts Facebook, Google and Twitter among its members.

Niekrenz added that while her organizations interests were opposed to those of Big Tech “in many areas”, for example on the handling of user data, “its fair to say that here, the big platforms are pushed into a peculiar role in which theyre supposed to play deputy sheriffs and have to decide whats lawful and what isnt.”

“This doesnt bother me because I feel sorry for Facebook or Google having to do the work, but because I am concerned about the societal consequences,” she added.

The German justice ministry denied a request to reply to their criticism, citing a policy of not commenting on open letters.

The uproar in Germany underscores how challenging the regulation of online content is for democratic countries | Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images

Berlins hate speech law also provides a major test case of cracking down on hate speech online at a time when the European Commission is examining new rules for policing content online — and looking closely at how Germany, France and the United Kingdom are handling the matter.

The uproar in Germany underscores how challenging the regulation of online content is for democratic countries. Critics warn in particular that well-meaning efforts in Europe could provide a template for censorship of political opponents in autocratic countries.

Lambrecht hinted, however, that Berlins rulebook could serve as a role model for other EU countries. Following a meeting earlier this month with colleagues from the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Spain and Italy, she said that Germany will push for cooperation and “new European rules” to fight online hate speech during its rotating presidency of the EU starting this summer.

“In many European countries, populists and extremists are rioting against democracy, dissenters and minorities,” she said. “The platforms are the same, and the racist and anti-Semitic messages are similar.”

What defines hate?

Germanys efforts to snuff out online hate speech passed a milestone in the summer of 2017, when parliament passed its Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG).

The law forces large social media platforms to delete potential criminal content, sometimes within as little as 24 hours. It also requires them to provide law enforcement agencies with user data in certain cases.

From its onset, however, critics warned that the pioneering rulebook — the first major effect of a Western democracy to reign in hate speech online — hadRead More – Source

Tech
Oracle founder and executive chairman Larry Ellison.Oracle PR / Flickr

About 300 Oracle employees walked off the job on Thursday to protest founder and executive chairman Larry Ellison's decision to hold a fundraiser for President Donald Trump the previous evening, Bloomberg reports. It was a rare sign of dissent for a company known for its stodgy corporate culture. But the circumstances of the small-scale protest also suggest that Ellison has less reason to worry about future employee revolts than some of his fellow tech moguls.

"The protest, called No Ethics/No Work, involved about 300 employees walking out of their offices or stopping work at remote locations at noon local time and devoting the rest of the day to volunteering or civic engagement," Bloomberg reports. Bloomberg's source asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

Oracle has more than 130,000 employees, so a walkout by 300 workers is hardly a serious threat to the company. Some employees, worried about retaliation from management, chose to give to charities opposing Trump's agenda rather than participate in the walkout. Others took vacation time for their afternoon off. In short, Oracle employees took a less confrontational approach than employees at other tech giants, including Google and Amazon.

According to Bloomberg, the website organizing the protests was flagged by Oracle's network. Oracle employees visiting the site from their work computers would see a message that said "Access to this site may not be permitted by the Oracle Acceptable Use Policy. However, if user is authorized and has legitimate business reason to access the requested site, then click below to access. Your access will be logged."

Oracle now says this was an accident. According to a spokesperson, the site was temporarily flagged by anti-virus software but was whitelisted once the issue was noticed.

Rivals

Oracle could benefit richly from a close relationship with Trump. On Wednesday, the Trump administration's lawyers sided with Oracle in its high-stakes legal battle with Google over API copyrights, which is headed to the Supreme Court next month. Oracle's campaign to extend copyright protection to software interfaces has few supporters in the software industry. Microsoft, IBM, and a number of tech industry trade groups have Read More – Source

Tech

HBOs Westworld S3.

It's been a long wait, but HBO just dropped a full trailer for the third season of Westworld, HBO's Emmy-award winning science fiction series. And it looks like we're in for another wild, mind-bending ride through multiple dystopian timelines.

(Warning: major spoilers for the first two seasons of Westworld below.)

The titular Westworld is one of six immersive theme parks owned and operated by a company called Delos Inc. The park is populated with a "cast" of very human-looking androids, called hosts. The park's well-heeled visitors can pretty much do whatever they like to the hosts and don't generally view the hosts as anything more than unfeeling props in their private dramas. But the hosts' creator/co-founder and park director of Westworld, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), "awakens" a host named Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) to true sentience. S1 concluded with a bloody massacre, as the reprogrammed hosts rise up to take revenge on the guests.

S2 had an even more convoluted plot spanning multiple timelines. Dolores begins recruiting other hosts to fight off Delos security forces while searching for the door to the real world, intent on taking revenge by wiping out the human race. Ars' own Nathan Matisse particularly praised S2's seventh episode, "Les Écorchés"—in which the hosts prevail against the humans in yet another bloody massacre at the Mesa—especially its focus on Hopkins' misanthropic Ford:

The episode brings into further focus Ford's pseudo-nihilistic supervillain thesis: that humanity, as a product of nothing more than evolution, is inherently valueless. We are crude hunks of self-animating meat—obstacles standing in the way of the hosts' path to true self-actualization. It's time for us to die and for the hosts to inherit the Earth, because in Ford's mind, only a true "original work" has worth. The hosts, as created beings, are such a work.

In the S2 finale, Dolores leads her fellow hosts to the Forge, a kind of central database, and several Hosts upload their minds into a digital world known as "the Sublime." Dolores then transfers their minds to a safer location. Ultimately, three of the Hosts are shown entering the real world in the central timeline: Dolores, Bernard (Jeffrey Wright), and a rebuilt host version of former Delos executive Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson).

  • Close-up of a fabricated eye. YouTube/HBO
  • A new host's body takes shape. YouTube/HBO
  • Pulling synthetic skin over a metal skeleton. YouTube/HBO
  • Dolores is back in her original form. YouTube/HBO
  • She's ready to pass as human in the real world. YouTube/HBO
  • Aaron Paul joins the cast as Caleb, who teams up with Dolores. YouTube/HBO
  • In neo-Los Angeles, humans work alongside robots. YouTube/HBO
  • Jeffrey Wright returns as Bernard. YouTube/HBO
  • Maeve (Thandie Newton) finds a benefactor. YouTube/HBO
  • Victor Cassel joins the S3 cast as a man who wants Maeve to track down and kill Dolores. YouTube/HBO
  • Dolores taunts William (Ed Harris). YouTube/HBO
  • On a mission. YouTube/HBO
  • Every good car chase should have an explosion. YouTube/HBO
  • Team Hosts has a plan. YouTube/HBO
  • Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) serves as bait. YouTube/HBO
  • Score one for Team Hosts. Read More – Source

Tech
Enlarge / Guess what won't be on display at one of the biggest US gaming gatherings? Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Update, February 20: One day after Sony's PAX East cancellation, the company's PlayStation arm has now announced plans to skip a second major gaming expo, the Game Developers Conference, by citing the impact of coronavirus on its worldwide operations. Its exit from the March expo has company: Oculus, the virtual reality arm of Facebook, will also no longer attend GDC.

GamesIndustry.biz reported the pair of cancellations on Thursday with statements from both companies. Both statements revolve around concern for the health and safety of employees worldwide, while Oculus insists it will proceed as planned by posting GDC-timed announcements online and "host[ing] GDC partner meetings remotely" in the near future.

GDC's organizers posted a statement on Thursday assuring attendees that they're moving forward with the expo as planned, based on guidance from state and city health advisers. "We believe that, based on the strict US quarantine around coronavirus and a large number of enhanced on-site measures, we are able to execute a safe and successful event for our community," the statement said.

Original report:

One of the biggest names in gaming won't be at one of the biggest US gaming conventions next week, as Sony today unexpectedly pulled out of PAX East, citing coronavirus concerns.

Sony Interactive Entertainment today announced its withdrawal from the event as an update to an earlier blog post touting its planned lineup for the exhibition.

"We felt this was the safest option as the situation is changing daily," the update reads. "We are disappointed to cancel our participation in this event, but the health and safety of our global workforce is our highest concern."

PAX East 2020 will begin February 27—next Thursday—in Boston. Sony was planning to have 25 playable Playstation demo games on hand at PAX East, including a hands-on experience with the highly anticipated The Last of Us Part II. The PAX booth was slated to be the first time the general public could try any part of the game, which was originally slated for release this week before being bumped to May.

Kyle Marsden-Kish, PAX event director for ReedPOP, said in a statement that PAX East will have "enhanced cleaning and sanitation" event-wide, but otherwise the show will go on. "While we are saddened that Sony will no longer have a presence at PAX East 2020," he added, "we look forward to welcoming our friends at Sony to future PAX events and are focused on making PAX East 2020 a successful and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors."

As of today, more than 75,200 cases of novel coronavirus disease, now named COVID-19, have been diagnosed Read More – Source

Tech
Enlarge / The iPhone 11.Samuel Axon

Apple is seriously considering the possibility of allowing users to change the default apps for Web browsing, mail, or music on their iPhones. The company might also allow users to listen to Spotify or other music streaming services besides Apple Music via Siri on the iPhone or on the HomePod smart speaker.

These revelations were outlined in a report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman this morning, who cited multiple people familiar with Apple's internal plans.

While Apple's plans are not final, the changes could go into effect as soon as Apple's iOS 14 release later this year, which means they would likely be introduced during Apple's developer conference this June.

Currently, iOS users can download third-party applications for mail or Web browsing like Outlook or Firefox, but they cannot set them to be the default apps that the system opens when a link or email address is tapped in another application, for example. Apple does allow users to do these things in some cases with its macOS software for desktops and laptops, even though it's not possible on the company's mobile platforms.

This could help Apple's iOS platform compete with Google's Android, which has the dominant position in the smartphone market; this lack of flexibility in iOS is sometimes cited by users as a reason for opting for Android instead, as Android has long given users these kinds of choices.

And as Bloomberg notes, more elegant support for streaming services besides Apple Music would almost certainly be a boon for sales of Apple's HomePod smart speaker, as that lack of flexibility is a major limitation for that product compared to its competitors. Yes, HomePod users can stream Spotify to the HomePod using Apple's AirPlay technology, but many users may feel that is not a complete solution.

If these changes occur, they would be welcome ones for many iPhone owners. And they may help Apple preempt or address some lawsuits or antitrust complaints.

Taking music as an example, Spotify filed an antitrust complaint with European Union officials claiming that Apple unfairly prioritizes its own Music streaming service over Spotify's, even when users are deliberately seeking out Spotify. Among other things, Spotify has pointed out that Apple stacked search results in its on-device App Store with first-party software results at the expense of third-parties like Spotify, though Apple has already responded to those complaintsRead More – Source

Tech
Enlarge / An image of Phobos captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Japan's space agency has finalized a plan to send a probe to the Martian moons of Phobos and Deimos, and it includes an ambitious lander to collect samples from Phobos to return to Earth.

The agency, JAXA, submitted the plan to the country's science ministry on Wednesday, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported. On Twitter, the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) official account also announced that it had formally moved from design into the "development" phase of operations. The space agency estimated that the total cost for the mission would come to $417 million.

The current plan calls for a 2024 launch of the probe on an H-3 rocket, a new booster built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and expected to debut late this year or in 2021. The MMX spacecraft would enter into orbit around Mars in 2025 and return to Earth in 2029.

Japan has experience with similar kinds of missions to small bodies in the Solar System. Its Hayabusa-2 probe successfully grabbed material from surface of the asteroid Ryugu and is scheduled to return the asteroid samples to Earth late this year. With a diameter of just 23km, Phobos has a surface gravity that is about one-thousandth that of Earth.

The MMX team has already said it plans to work on a similar small lander to Hayabusa-2 for the Mars mission, collaborating with the German and French space agencies.

No spacecraft have yet flown to Mars with the designated purpose of studying its small moons, nor has mRead More – Source

Tech

Thanks to the cancellation of next week's scheduled Mobile World Congress, tech companies are beginning to come forward with their previously planned MWC announcements. One of those, from HTC's Vive division, mostly revolves around plans to double-down on its consumer-grade Vive Cosmos VR headset. The company has announced three new models of the Cosmos, and each is a spin on the existing Cosmos system, only with new swappable "face plates."

The thing is, we've yet to go hands-on with any of these new versions of the Cosmos, which HTC says it'll remedy soon enough. In the meantime, if we're going to talk about unproven hardware, why not shoot for the moon?

  • Say hello to the HTC Vive Proton prototype headset. While HTC is currently quite mum about its specs, the company is currently bullish about the Proton as a combination device for VR, AR, and MR use… whenever it sees the light of day, anyway. HTC
  • HTC told Ars Technica that this pictured headset, the one with a dangling cord, is an "actual working prototype." HTC
  • However, HTC isn't ready to reveal the "lightweight component" that the Proton connects to for processing, battery, 5G connectivity, and more. HTC
  • HTC also revealed another Proton design, which clearly lacks a cord or tether. However, the company's representatives wouldn't provide any further details about this device, beyond the fact that this is currently a target render, not a real piece of hardware. HTC
  • Another angle of the untethered target render. HTC

That brings us to HTC's wackiest Thursday announcement: the HTC Vive Proton. This brand-new "prototype" headset system, as pictured above, is built around HTC's belief that "immersive" headset experiences will, for the foreseeable future, be a blend of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. As a result, the Proton is built around this concept of being able to see your real-life environs, with a certain level of 3D content superimposed on top, depending on what a given game or app demands.

In a phone interview with Ars Technica, HTC Vive President Dan O'Brien did not clarify whether the Proton will show users' real-life surroundings via a "pass-through" camera (a la the HTC Vive Pro's optional toggle) or as a clear view of the outside world through transparent glass (a la Magic Leap and Hololens).

While O'Brien insists that the first image in the above gallery is a shot of "an actual working prototype," this picture is missing the "lightweight component" that houses the system's processors, memory, battery, and 5G modem. While O'Brien didn't describe the shape or size of this object, he didn't deny our suggestion that it resembles the processing "puck" attached to the Magic Leap augmented-reality headset system. Meaning: this headset connects to some sort of battery-powered device that you can expect to attach to a belt or hip in some fashion.

"A tethered 5G experience that helps with rendering will be beneficial and safer for the user," O'Brien said in a phone interview. "It'll be more comfortable for the user, so you don't pack in too much weight, battery, and heat in the headset." O'Brien pointed to consumer concerns about attaching a 5G modem to a device that's strapped onto a user's head: "We don't see the viability of putting 5G antennas on people's foreheads."

One of O'Brien's comments lends credence to this being a truly working prototype: that it currently only works with a "three degrees of freedom" (3DOF) controller, even though the headset itself can handle six degrees of freedom (6DOF) for all head movement. In other words, you can safely walk and move your head while wearing the current Proton and expect virtual images to move and translate in kind, but the controller will only appear with a simpler "relative" positioning in virtual space. (If you're wondering how this works, read my Oculus Go review from late 2018. The short version: It's the worst part of using Oculus Go's apps.) O'Brien says the system "will work with 6DOF controllers in the future."

O'Brien emphasized multiple times in our conversation that HTC had no further specs or details to confirm at this time. He also wasn't willing to mention any other hardware manufacturers or partners who may be involved in its production. "We're still developing this product," he said. "We will feed out more information as we refine this product in 2020." While a prototype device like this would make sense to show off at an expo like Mobile World Congress, particularly with behind-closed-doors demos to build its mystique and buzz, we're a bit confused as to why HTC would show off such a vague, forward-looking device. Perhaps it's a reaction to Apple's rumored plans for its own Proton-like device coming as soon as 2022.

Three more Vive Cosmos options: Face… off

  • Behold, the bewildering HTC Vive Cosmos family of headsets, faceplates, and controllers. HTC
  • The Vive Cosmos Elite will have a black body, but its base headset is otherwise identical to other Vive Cosmos headsets. It's that front faceplate, and its compatibility with SteamVR tracking boxes, that varies from its Cosmos siblings. Worth noting: Because the Cosmos Elite doesn't use inside-out tracking, its side-facing cameras don't even function by default; they're just there in case you want to swap to a faceplate that does support inside-out tracking.
  • The Cosmos Play will be positioned as a lower-price option, as it has two fewer cameras than the standard Cosmos. It's also missing embedded speakers.
  • The Cosmos XR has a much more pronounced pair of lower-front cameras than the standard Cosmos headset, and these will be used to feed camera footage for "mixed reality" experiences.
  • For reference, here's the original Vive Cosmos system. If you already bought one of these, you can snap its front faceplate off and swap it with the other models' variants to switch use cases on the fly.
  • If you want to use the Vive Cosmos controllers, be warned that they will not function with the Cosmos Elite bundle or faceplate. HTC

The rest of HTC Vive's Thursday announcements are about three new Vive Cosmos headsets: the Vive Cosmos Play, the Vive Cosmos Elite, and the Vive Cosmos XR. This is where things get a bit confusing, as each model is effectively the same headset… with the exception of each model's faceplate.

All three new headsets come with the same form factor as Read More – Source