Google announces standalone VR headsets – no phone, console or PC required

Nearly two hours into the Google I/O keynote, VR was mentioned for the first time. Despite this late billing, the announcement was potentially game changing: Google is working on a virtual reality headset that won’t use your phone, games console or PC. It will have everything it needs to function built right into the headset.

Google announces standalone VR headsets – no phone, console or PC required

The standalone VR headset is being created in partnership with Qualcomm. Together, the companies have created two reference sets, which will allow manufacturers to make their own models based on the technology. First up will be Lenovo and HTC – with Google keen to highlight the latter’s experience with the Vive.

The lack of external device powering the headsets is important for two reasons: the first is it means that latency should be non-existent. The second is that there will be no wires to trip you up. But while Daydream and Samsung’s Gear VR offers both of these right now, Google has another trick up its sleeve: WorldSense. WorldSense, Google says, is technology that provides positional tracking straight from the headset, meaning it can match your movements in the real world into a virtual one, without the need for any external equipment. That sounds impressive on paper – we’ll just have to see how well it works when the first headsets get released later this year.

That doesn’t mean that Google is giving up on Daydream for phones though. In fact, before announcing the standalone version, the company revealed that Daydream support would be coming to the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus very soon. That’s good, and all, but a slightly odd choice given Samsung’s continual push for the Gear VR…

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