May 16, 2017

Report: Google to preview standalone mobile VR headset

Google is developing a virtual reality headset that doesn't require a separate phone or PC to operate, according to a new report in Variety. It could be shown at this week's I/O conference in Mountain View, according to the report. A Google representative was not immediately available for comment.

The background: Google introduced its Daydream effort at last year's I/O conference, but that headset (above) requires a compatible smartphone, as does Samsung's Gear VR. Other units, like HTC's Vive or Oculus' Rift require a tethered PC. There have been reports that Google was working on a standalone system for more than a year.

The pros: A standalone unit is more mobile and, in theory could be better tailored toward just the VR experience than a phone-based system. Google's system could also tap the company's Project Tango effort to help map the world around the user and detect when someone has, for example, leaned forward or taken a step. Known in industry jargon as positional tracking, this typically has required external cameras or sensors.

The cons: By not tapping the phone for display and processing, a standalone mobile VR headset is likely to be far costlier than Gear VR or Daydream while probably not offering as much performance as the Rift or Vive.

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