According to a recent leak, ASUS is working on a standalone virtual reality headset planned for a market release in 2017. The device is referred to as the ASUS AIO VR (all-in-one virtual reality) and although hardware specifications are lacking at the time of writing, the headset’s overall design appears to be much more streamlined compared to ASUS’ previous VR headset unveiled at Computex 2016.
ASUS’ first tentative VR headset was unveiled last year at Computex, but unlike that particular device, the ASUS AIO VR doesn’t seem to rely on a smartphone for processing power, and instead it is powered by its own internal hardware. Moreover, unlike the ASUS Vision unveiled at Computex 2016, the leaked model at hand appears to have borrowed a design page from Google’s Daydream View, making extensive use of textile materials for its exterior. In theory, this should make the headset more comfortable to wear over extended periods of time, reducing possible airtight effects and helping in preventing lens fogging. A cloth exterior should also permit for a lighter package, which usually helps immersion and making head motions less taxing on the neck.
Although rumors suggest that the ASUS AIO VR will be a standalone head-mounted-display, at the moment there’s no information regarding the headset’s exact hardware specifications, so only time will tell which market/price segment will accommodate it. And despite the familiar design resembling Google’s Daydream View, as yet there’s no way of knowing if the headset will be compatible with Google’s VR platform ‘Daydream’, or if it will rely on a different ecosystem. In any case, it’s worth noting that ASUS is not the only company seemingly working on creating a standalone VR experience, as other names in the industry – including Oculus and Samsung - are reportedly exploring standalone VR concepts of their own. Ultimately, more VR products on the market should lead to a fiercer competition, better products, and perhaps lower prices. Furthermore, standalone VR headsets could introduce new consumers – who may not have access to either a premium smartphone or powerful computer - to the concept of virtual reality. It all comes down to pricing, and assuming that the ASUS AIO VR is indeed in the works for a 2017 release, we’ll have to wait and see if it will offer enough bang for the buck.