Google unveils standalone VR headsets - no smartphone needed

Google is about to take the wraps off its answer to Facebook's Oculus

Google's vice president of virtual and augmented reality Clay Bavor says the key technology here is the use of sensors, instead of external cameras or trackers, that makes the experience more realistic.

Google revealed today that Daydream (its VR platform created to accommodate the Daydream View headset) is expanding to include standalone VR headsets. The two companies partnering Google are Lenovo and HTC and each of these will have its own headset based on a reference design Google and Qualcomm have drafted together. The best VR devices on the market are usually either tethered to a PC, like HTC Vive, or require a smartphone to be inserted into the device such as Samsung Gear VR or any of the Google Cardboard headsets.

The new range of devices will use a tracking technology called "WordSense" that enables the headset to track its wearer's precise movements in space.




The Daydream VR platform was introduced at last year's I/O conference and already there are more than 150 VR apps in the Google Play Store. Considering the new VR headsets feature hardware typically found in the fastest smartphones of today, we do not believe "Daydream Standalone VR" will come cheap.

An update to provide both the S8 and S8 Plus with Daydream compatibility is due in the summer. This option has been available on a high-end headset like HTC Vive, but it requires a cord to connect to a TV. This development is expected to broaden virtual reality's horizon beyond video games to a much larger audiences. The new headsets will also be including Worldsense tracking technology, which according to Cal Bavor, the Google VP for VR, will offer dramatically improved tracking. There's also a pretty unexpected addition headed to Daydream View headsets: Chrome. It's meant to be an indoor alternative to Global Positioning System and is now being trialled in select Lowe's stores and museums. This comes as Google attempts to make staying in the Daydream VR interface as convenient as possible.

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