With the launch of the Oculus Rift headset just over the horizon, and HTC/ Valve about to show their final Vive hardware at MWC 2015, 2016 is already lining up to be the year that virtual reality goes big. And the biggest tech company in the world obviously wants in – Google's experimented with its cheap-as-chips Cardboard viewer, but it's looking to go one better soon too, with a standalone headset that doesn't require a secondary device to work.
Whereas Google Cardboard requires a smartphone to deliver virtual reality experiences (as does the Samsung Gear VR), Oculus Rift and HTC Vive rely on a high powered PC and PlayStation VR needs a PS4 console to work, Google's next headset will work as a solo bit of kit, according to the Wall Street Journal. It'll hold all its screen, processing and motion-sensing tech within its casing, with forward-facing cameras to analyse your surroundings and (hopefully) stop you walking off down the stairs with the headset on. Presumably, this decision is to allow the headset to go wire free and battery powered, rather than the mess of cables that causes Oculus to be a stationary (if not static) experience.
Movidius is said to be providing the processing power, though there's no set release date for the headset yet – it could well prove to be a prototype that never sees the light outside of Google's X labs. Still, Google's expected to be showing off a new smartphone-powered viewer at its I/O conference in May, so either way Google's still keeping an eye on the VR race. [WSJ (paywall)