Last week, it was reported that Google would be releasing a device sometime later this year as a successor to its Cardboard virtual reality system; one that would supposedly feature a host of improvements over the cheap VR viewer, and be more like Samsung’s Gear VR headset.
Now, a report from the Wall Street Journal claims that in addition to working on this smartphone-powered headset, Google is also developing a VR first: a stand-alone device that requires no smartphone, computer or games console to power it.
The device will reportedly feature a display, outward-facing cameras (possibly depth-sensing ones like those used on Project Tango), and high-powered processors using chips from startup Movidius Inc, a company specializing in embedded machine vision.
Movidius acknowledged that it has a “business relationship” with Google, and said in a statement that it works with many companies on virtual reality and augmented reality devices, but it didn’t go into details.
Should the reports prove to be true, the headset would be another product from Google’s recently formed Virtual Reality division, which is headed by the company’s VP for product management, Clay Bavor.
With the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive requiring fairly beefy PCs to get the most out of them, and cheaper, smartphone-powered devices unable to match the quality of these headsets, Google’s potential stand-alone device could offer a good middle-ground between these two types of VR experiences.
The headset is reportedly in the early stages of development, so we may not see it until next year, but it’s yet another indication that tech companies view virtual reality as the future of the industry.