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February 12, 2016

Google Developing Standalone Virtual Reality Headset

Google is developing a virtual reality headset that will have no need of a Smartphone, computer or games console to function, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

CardboardSources “familiar with the matter” did not have many details to give on Google’s plans, but it is a sign the tech titan is getting serious about virtual reality and is gearing up to take on Facebook-owned Oculus, HTC, Samsung and Sony.

Oculus, likely Google’s biggest competitor, last fall gave a preview of a Gear VR set that is expected to retail for about $100. The current model, which runs off a connection to a computer, is set to ship next month for $599.

HTC announced last month that its Vive headset would soon be ready for pre-order. The unit’s price hasn’t been released yet, but it is thought it will be cheaper than Oculus’ Gear VR.

The report also indicated Google is working on an updated version of Cardboard, its $20 virtual reality headset. Currently, Cardboard uses software to bring 3D viewing to a standard Smartphone placed within the cardboard frame. But sources said an updated Cardboard would incorporate its own computer chips, upping the power of the device.

So far, Google has shipped about five million of its Cardboard VR viewers and is likely hoping the extra power brought about with its own chip will up shipments considerably.

The WSJ article comes about a month after reports that Google was in the midst of creating an entire division dedicated to VR. The company appointed Clay Bavor as its first virtual reality boss.