Advertising giant Google is reportedly set to jump into the virtual reality market with both feet, by launching a standalone device which will not require connection to a computer, console, or smartphone.
Google is no stranger to virtual reality or head-mounted displays. The company's Cardboard design allows you to build a low-cost head-tracking virtual reality headset, using your existing Android-powered smartphone as both the brains and the display. The company also hit the headlines with Google Glass, a wearable computer with head-up display and limited augmented reality functionality, though pulled the product short of its expected retail launch amid complaints of privacy problems.
With companies like Oculus VR, HTC, Razer, and Sony all looking to carve up a piece of the burgeoning VR market for themselves, though, Google is claimed to be taking things a little more seriously - and plans to combine what it has learned from Google Cardboard and Google Glass to build a fully self-contained virtual reality headset, which would not rely on any external hardware to operate.
The concept described by the WSJ
and reportedly under the leadership of the company's freshly-named virtual reality chief Clay Bavor is a similar approach to that taken by Microsoft for its HoloLens system: a fully self-contained wearable computer with head-mounted display. Where Microsoft is concentrating on augmented reality, though, Google's efforts are reportedly more virtual: the headset is expected to fully encompass the wearer's vision, but features multiple externally-mounted cameras for AR and head-tracking functionality.
Google, naturally, has not commented on the paper's claims, which point to a potential unveiling some time later this year.