Google Announces Stand-Alone Virtual Reality Hardware

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Google has announced virtual reality hardware that can be operated independent of a smartphone or computer.

In late May, Google announced a myriad of upcoming virtual reality innovations

At its yearly I/O conference in late May, Google announced its collaboration with Lenovo and HTC to develop “a new breed of VR headsets, designed to work without a phone or separate computer,” per CNET’s Ian Sherr.

In his keynote speech at Google I/O, Clay Bavor, the VP of Virtual and Augmented Reality at Google, referred to these devices as “standalone headsets” that require “no cables, no phone and certainly no big PC.” Clay goes on to say that “by building every part of the device specifically for VR we have been able to optimize everything. The displays, the optics the sensors all to deliver a stronger sense of being transported.”

CNET’s Scott Stein also noted that the headsets will “have built-in ‘WorldSense’ cameras that allow some room-tracking and movement,” something that other higher end virtual reality headsets can only do with sensors placed throughout a designated room. Because ‘Worldsense’ is integrated in the headset, Google’s new VR will allow the user to enjoy a full virtual reality experience with movement in any room or space.

Previous iterations of VR headsets, like Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Sony’s Playstation VR, and HTC and Valve’s Vive headsets, required that the user be connected physically or wirelessly to their PC and consoles.

Meanwhile more portable virtual reality headsets, like Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s own Daydream and cardboard headsets, rely on the user’s phone being inserted in the front as a screen, a costly sacrifice to the phone’s charge that users need for various other tasks throughout the day. Google’s standalone devices may solve these issues with their new dedicated platform.

For now, there has been no announced price and only a vague promise for a release later this year. But, a dedicated VR machine with motion tracking capabilities and no need to be anchored to a PC is a promising innovation in the emerging virtual reality market. With the virtual reality industry missing sales targets in 2016 according to Fortune’s Jeff Roberts, an innovation like this may usher in a new wave a virtual reality excitement and reinvigorate sales to their once projected levels.