Google’s New VR Headset Won’t Require a Smartphone or PC
Earlier this month, a report from the Financial Times revealed that tech giant Google is working on a new virtual reality headset. While the company already has its paper-based Google Cardboard headset (which allows uses to slot their smartphones into the headset), this new piece of tech would have a solid plastic casing along with better sensors and lenses. Moreover, the new headset would launch alongside Android VR technology which would embed VR capabilities within Google’s Android operating system, replacing the current system in which Cardboard works by using VR apps.
While that information is unconfirmed, the rumor mill appears to be working overtime as yet more information about Google’s VR headset was found its way out of the company. This time, people familiar with the company’s plans have told The Wall Street Journal that the upcoming headset will not require a smartphone, PC, or a games console, which would make the virtual reality device the first of its kind not to require any other tech.
In its (paywalled) report, The WSJ explains that the Google device is still early in development. However, should its current, in-development specs remain the same at launch, then consumers can expect its screen to be joined with high-powered processors, outward facing cameras, and Movidius chips that would interpret camera feeds in order to track movement of the wearer’s head.
Moreover, the publication says that we can expect to see an update version of Google Cardboard as well. The updated device will reportedly have a solid plastic frame as well and it would also include chips and sensors. While this is the first time we’ve heard that Cardboard itself would receive an overhaul in addition to the new VR device, the information doesn’t come as a surprise given that the bit of paper kit has shifted 5 million units since its 2014 launch and Google likely wants to capitalize on that success.
While all of this information is unconfirmed (despite Google’s suggestions that this will be a big year for its virtual reality sector), it is very much in line with its ‘accessible VR’ standpoint. The company has been quite clear that it wants to make virtual reality tech easier to get into and its two upcoming headsets would help achieve that.
One barrier to entry for virtual reality is the price, as Oculus Rift will cost well over $1000 if you include the high-powered PC needed to use it. Even Sony’s PlayStation VR, which is being positioned as the cheaper option, will cost around $400 for the device plus another $300 for the PS4 console. In making a headset that doesn’t need an extra device, consumers could save several hundred dollars, and it lets them get in on VR even if they don’t have a device capable of running the new Android VR version of the operating system. If Google can create some system-selling software too, then it could be a worthy competitor to Oculus and Sony.
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