Google supposedly working on stand-alone VR headset, as well as next-gen sensor-laden Cardboard

Google’s been making a big investment in virtual reality lately, and with all the reports we’ve heard of new VR hires, it hasn’t been hard to imagine that this interest might extend beyond the sort of relatively simple Cardboard viewer we have now. But just how far could Google be planning to go? A recent report suggested news could be coming at this year’s I/O, including a next-gen Cardboard-like headset that pairs with existing smartphones. Now a new rumor suggests that not only is this advanced Cardboard successor in the works, but that Google’s also working on a fully stand-alone VR headset – no phone needed.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google’s working on a VR headset that requires no smartphone, and no external computer, offering users a fully-contained experience – sounding not unlike Microsoft HoloLens in that regard.

We’ve heard that the headset will have its own screen, processors, and outward-facing cameras, but specific details about the hardware setup remain unknown. One thing we might expect, though, is the use of Movidius chips for position-tracking – and late last month we learned that Movidius will be working with Google for some future project.

It’s not yet clear when Google might be planning to announce this headset, nor what we could expect it to cost.

In addition to this stand-alone headset, sources also point to a new Cardboard-like product that will work with phones. A bit like the Gear VR, this new viewer would include some of its own sensors to improve the VR experience beyond what’s capable with a phone’s hardware alone, and may even include on-board processing capabilities. There’s also the possibility that Google could be preparing special VR support for a future Android release, which this hardware would then tap into. Unlike the dedicated headset, we have a rumored timeline for this one’s launch, with sources again discussing a Google I/O announcement.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!