As had been rumored, at Google I/O‘s keynote address today the company announced a major step forward in their offering in the virtual reality headset market with the upcoming release of a standalone VR headset. The new units are expected to be ready for retail purchasers before the end of the year with units from HTC and Lenovo in the pipeline. In addition to the support from hardware manufacturers, Google has developed a new system called WorldSense to provide positional tracking for the units.
The new headsets will differ from current offerings, including Google’s own Daydream platform or even Cardboard, in that no smartphone, computer or gaming console will be needed to use the headset. All of the necessary computer pieces will be housed within the headset, from the main processors to graphics hardware, storage, and wireless support.
Along with all of the “standard” computer bits to be included, the new headsets will also be packed full of sensors used to detect the outside, real world. This essentially describes how Google’s Tango system works and that is likely the base code for the new platform called WorldSense. Besides enabling the system to construct virtual worlds that are laid over a representation of the real world, an augmented reality approach mixed in with the virtual reality concept, the system also functions to track a user’s movements.
Subsequent to Google’s announcement, both Lenovo and HTC have launched pages on their web sites covering the new standalone headsets they are working on for Google. The details are very thin, basically just describing everything Google covered in the announcement. This is still a good step though to see that Google has actual manufacturers already working on products that will use the new WorldSense platform and that will be built to Google’s specs for a standalone VR headset.