Intel’s Developer Forum was in San Francisco this week, where the tech giant showed off some seriously next generation gadgetry that will go hand-in-hand for sure. Both items came a bit out of left field from Intel. But on the other hand, the company has truly been spreading its wings lately, steering away from all PC, all the time. First was the announcement of Project Alloy, a VR headset aimed to introduce the concept of “merged reality”, the other, an innovative look at the Kaby Lake microprocessor. Although we’ll be focusing on the headset news, the microprocessor remains a very important aspect of Intel’s VR headline considering Kaby Lake PCs will be producing the content.
Ok so what is this VR headset from Intel? The simplified, cordless headset will have all the computational and graphic internals required to sense and experience true VR. This means it’s all inside - the graphics, CPU, and battery, as well as 3D cameras and sensors from Intel’s line of RealSense motion tracking technology. As mentioned, this particular set is capable of what’s called “merged reality”, or the the blending of both virtual and augmented environments. To remind you, augmented reality is like blending VR with real life, where the user can interact with the contents in the real world, as well as distinguish between the two. It is AR that has found its advantage over regular VR, which is more about the creation of the virtual world, and is designed to have the user “confused” as to which world is real and fake.
During the keynote, Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich explained Project Alloy’s most important distinguishment from the Oculus or HTC Vive. There is no PC involved. Most VR headsets have to connect to a computer for power, but this one is completely untethered, and as stated, all components, including the processor, are located inside the headset itself. When it comes to Intel’s Project Alloy differentiating itself from the pack, these specs are pretty hard to beat. Additionally, the devices will run Windows Holographic for software, and thanks to Intel’s special tech RealSense, the computer sensors detect where your hands are. They also (somehow) know where you are and what you are doing in your environment, and use that information to protect you from running into obtrusions.
Besides the fact you can’t say much negative about Intel, you can admit the company’s PC growth isn’t what it used to be, and it’s probably because, unlike most everyone else in the biz, Intel hasn’t gone that far beyond simple computing. With VR, Intel isn’t going along with the pack the way it (more or less) has with its wearables, IoT devices, and other projects over the years. RealSense alone is refreshing to see being used. The 3D camera technology appears to be at its best, after existing for years and not quite finding its niche in otherwise promising devices. Maybe this is it, maybe Intel’s very own VR headset, which doesn’t need wires, controllers, or tedious installation and setup, will set a new standard in the role of merged reality. Now, Project Alloy isn’t ready for consumers yet, but it’s already a highly anticipated product. We’ll be patiently waiting until its release in late 2017.
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