Google might just take out the smartphone, PC and the console dependency out of its virtual reality (VR) vision.
While all other companies’ plans are still dependent on smartphones, the Alphabet-owned company is believed to developing a stand-alone headset, which would be the first that will not be powered by a phone, console or a laptop, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported quoting unnamed sources.
The move could be a game changer for the company as other Silicon Valley companies jostle to take first cut of the growing VR market, which is still considered at its nascent stages by analysts. The strategy could also benefit consumers and make VR an affordable and a mass market technology.
Although rival companies are looking to seize the first mover’s advantage, none of the products are independent. While Facebook’s $599 Oculus headset works with a PC only, HTC Vive and Sony’s offering are tied to a console and PC. Samsung’s Gear VR, which was recently launched in India, also works only with flagship Galaxy series smartphones.
However, according to another report, the new VR device is expected to have its own screen, outward facing cameras and a high-powered processor based on chips from Movidius, a San Mateo, California-based startup that specialises in machine vision.
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. Movidius acknowledged it has a “business relationship” with Google but wouldn’t say anything else.
The new effort seems to be much advanced than the Cardboard which is the only VR headset from Google. The move also shows how seriously the company is taking the new technology. In January, the company had created its own VR division, putting vice president Clay Bavor at the helm of the division. Bavor used to be in charge of Google apps as well, but the company cleared away all his other responsibilities to focus squarely on VR.
However, the Carboard is supposed to get a makeover, which is only licensed and not sold by Google. It will release an updated version that will be made of plastic. The headset is also expected to include chips and sensors.