Google has teamed with HTC and Lenovo to build new, standalone virtual reality headsets that will launch sometime later this year and lean on Google’s Daydream platform, Clay Bavor, head of Google’s VR team, announced Wednesday (May 17) at the Google I/O developer conference.
Everything will be built into those products, meaning they won’t have to be tethered to a high-octane PC or gaming console, or have to work in tandem with a compatible smartphone. A big aim is to remove friction for consumers who want a high-end VR experience.
“Getting into VR is as easy as picking the thing up,” Bavor said.
Google is working with Qualcomm on the reference design for the standalone VR platform, which will and HTC, maker of the PC-connected Vive headset, and Lenovo will be making the consumer product. HTC has already set up a teaser site about the coming standalone VR product.
Pricing on those headsets hasn’t been announced, butBackchannel reports that it will be in the “mid-hundreds range,” seemingly putting them in the same cost ballpark as products such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but without the need for a pricey PC.
Facebook-owned Oculus is also working on a standalone VR headset, but has not announced launch timing.
The Google-powered standalone VR products will also use positioning inside-out tracking technology Google calls WorldSense. Bavor said WorldSense, which leans on Google’s Tango augmented reality system, matches the view in the virtual world with that in the real world, eliminating the need to set up separate position-tracking cameras.
Here’s a video that sheds a bit more light on WorldSense:
Bavor also provided some updates for Google Daydream View, the VR headset that works with compatible smartphones that went on sale last November.
He said LG’s next flagship smartphone, set to launch later this year, will support Daydream. Samsung’s S8 and S8+ smartphones will also get a software update that will make them compatible with Daydream, he said.
It’s a bold move for Samsung, whose current mobile headset, the Gear VR, is powered by Facebook-owned Oculus.