Virtual reality (VR) is gaining popularity at an impressive rate, and there are currently some great VR options on the market. Devices like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift connect to a PC through a cable to provide VR content. Then there’s the Gear VR, Samsung’s VR accessory that combines with the power of a Galaxy smartphone to offer a similar experience on a mobile device, and Sony’s upcoming PlayStation VR will allow VR games and other content to be played on their PS4 console. Intel is the latest company to enter the VR scene, and their device will do things a bit differently.
Project Alloy is a VR headset that does not have to be tethered to another device by a cable. While the same can be said about the Samsung Gear VR, the Gear VR runs on a mobile device, so it is fairly limited in comparison to VR headsets that rely on high-end gaming PCs in terms of specifications. Project Alloy does not need wired controllers for input either – or any controllers, for that matter. Your hands are the controllers and are tracked through sensors built into the headset, providing a more natural experience. The fact that the device will not need to be physically attached to anything will give the user the ability to move about the virtual world freely without having to worry about accidentally disconnecting anything. Hand tracking is done using RealSense technology, which combines a 1080p camera with infrared cameras and lasers to detect objects and movements.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich gave a demonstration of the unit on stage at the Intel Developers Forum, and also mentioned that a partnership is planned with Microsoft that will eventually open source Project Alloy and make the hardware available for use with Windows Holographic platform. The product is still in development so, at this point, information is still scarce. The release date and pricing information are not yet known. The hardware specifications were not detailed either, so it’s not clear how Project Alloy will stack up to its competitors in that area. If it can match the performance of high-end VR hardware like the Oculus Rift, the fact that it’s wireless, and allows the user to move around freely, could be the killer feature that separates it from the competition.