Google, one of the world’s best tech giant, announced yesterday that it will introduced a virtual- reality (VR) headsets that doesn’t need any smartphones or personal computers.
The newest product that set to dominate the market soon, called WorldSense is a stand-alone VR, has no price yet.
According to Google, it is working with two partners on the creation of stand-alone virtual-reality headsets that require neither being connected to a smartphone nor being tethered to a PC means that the next generation of consumer VR is coming no later than year’s end.
Also, Google’s WorldSense is the latest example of one company designing the software behind VR headsets and then turning those designs over to outside hardware manufacturers to build consumer devices.
According to Greenlight Insights, one of the most competitive tech site, virtual reality is expected to be a $38 billion industry by 2026.
Currently, there are effectively four levels of consumer VR, all of which require an external computing device, and which range in price from $15 to $800:
Google Cardboard, on the low end, works with iPhone or Android
Mobile VR headsets, like Samsung’s Gear VR (powered by software developed by Facebook-owned Oculus) and Google’s Daydream View, both of which work only with Android phones Sony’s PlayStation VR, which works with the PlayStation 4.
On the high end, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, both of which must be tethered to a gaming-quality PC.
It’s not known exactly what the new standalone VR devices–which will be manufactured initially by HTC’s Vive division and Lenovo using a reference design from Google and based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset–will cost.
But Google’s VP of VR and AR, Clay Bavor said they will likely be around the same as “desktop devices,” meaning the $599 Rift from Facebook-owned Oculus or the $799 Vive, both of which also require a pricey, powerful PC.
As of now, the exact timetable for these Google-powered standalone VR headsets also remains unknown, but the company says they will both go on sale by year’s end.
Oculus is also developing a stand-alone headset, which it has code-named Santa Cruz. It’s not yet known how much that device will cost, or when it will be available.
It can be remembered that the new Google software for standalone headsets is the culmination of several years’ work by people on the teams of both Google’s Daydream and Tango–its augmented reality platform.
Meanwhile, VP Bavor said at a press conference, the project connects dots between Daydream and Tango. It does so by combining what Google has already built in virtual reality–a lightweight, easy-to-use VR system–with Tango’s ability to see and map three-dimensional space.
The result is a Daydream-ready VR headset that offers positional tracking, meaning that users can physically move around in virtual environments rather than simply being in the center of a 360-degree scene. Low-end and mobile VR systems like Cardboard, Gear VR, and Daydream View offer the latter, while the PlayStation VR, Rift, and Vive offer the former. Oculus’s Santa Cruz prototype also includes positional tracking.
The new devices will run all existing Daydream apps–of which there are currently about 150–while new apps that are built for WorldSense will not work on existing Daydream-ready headsets.
Tech experts said that companies that develop VR headsets have chosen two models of blending software with hardware. On the one hand, there are devices where both are made by the same company–think the Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and even Google’s own Daydream View headset.
However, Google’s Bavor said that the “View was meant more to help jumpstart the Daydream developer ecosystem than to signal that Google wants to be a major player in VR hardware manufacturing.”