Google announced that it would offer a new standalone virtual reality (VR) headset on Wednesday that doesn’t use a phone, a computer, or cables like most existing VR devices.
Everything that’s needed to play VR content and apps will be built into the standalone headset itself, Google announced at its annual I/O developer conference.
That’s a big difference from some existing VR headsets, such as the Samsung Gear and Google’s own previous headset, which are basically fancy cases with special lenses that a user slides a phone into. Other VR headsets, like the Oculus Rift, must be connected to a PC with cables in order to operate.
With Google’s new standalone headset, the computing, the power, the display, and the lenses are all Incorporated directly into the headset.
That could fix some of the biggest problems with today’s VR experience.
Cables, for example, are restrictive and frustrating to deal with when you’re immersed in a virtual world and trying to move around while wearing a headset.
And phones can be underpowered for certain VR experiences, and computer-based VR, like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, require fairly expensive computers to run VR content and apps.
That said, it will be important to see how long Google’s standalone headset can last on a single battery charge.
Google worked with Qualcomm to develop the design for the standalone headset. And Google is partnering with HTC and Lenovo to make different versions of the VR headset which will be available in late 2017.
Google didn’t provide many details of what the actual finished product will look like, other than showing a very minimalist sketch.
The device will work with Google’s own Daydream VR platform where users can find and run VR content and apps to play through headsets.
Google touted new and improved positional tracking with its “World Sense” technology, which is designed to sense your head movements so you don’t need to add cameras and sensors throughout a room in your house just to do VR.
HTC is one of the existing major players in the VR with its HTC Vive headset, and Lenovo has its own Tango technology that’s centered around augmented reality (AR).
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