In Depth

Google develops standalone VR headsets

New platform doesn't need to be powered by a smartphone or computer

Google has announced at its annual I/O conference that it will produce "standalone" virtual reality (VR) headsets that do not need to be operated by an external device.

The standalone platform has been co-developed with wireless technology firm Qualcomm, says Alphr. The partnership has already created a pair of prototype headsets allowing hardware manufacturers "to make their own models based on the technology". 

As no external device, such as a smartphone or computer, is required to power the headsets, the website says that users won't have to worry about tripping over wires and "latency should be non-existent". This means there will be no pause between the user's movements and the image on the screen. 

While regular VR headsets rely on an array of onboard and exterior sensors to track user movements, ArsTechnica says that Google's standalone platform will use "World Sense" technology to offer better tracking compared to other VR headsets on the market. 

There's no word on how "World Sense" functions, but the site says that all sensors used to track head movements will be located onboard the device.

The tech giant is "still experimenting with products and designs to see what will capture consumers' attention", says the Financial Times, while trying to avoid situations similar to the unsuccessful 3D television.

Standalone VR headsets are not a new phenomenon, adds the newspaper, as Intel and Oculus have "previously shown off their own prototypes". 

But the paper says Google is the only manufacturer to have a device that will be available for consumers to buy. 

While a release date for the device has yet to be announced, HTC and Lenovo are developing headsets using Google's standalone platform. These are expected to launch later this year.

Google I/O event runs until 19 May. 

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