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Google Is Building a New Virtual Reality Headset

May 17, 2017, 8:12 PM UTC
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 04: A journalist uses Google's Daydream VR headset during an event to introduce Google hardware products on October 4, 2016 in San Francisco, California. Google unveils new products including the Google Pixel Phone making a jump into the mobile device market. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)
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Google is working on another virtual reality headset.

The search giant said Wednesday that it’s creating a new VR headset that, unlike most of its rivals, does not require a personal computer or a mobile phone to use. Google announced the new VR headset during its annual Google I/O conference for developers in Mountain View, Calif.

Google’s vice president of virtual reality products, Clay Bavor, said that the new yet-unnamed new VR headset would be “easy to use,” in contrast to many VR headsets that take time to set up and must be connected by a wire to a computer.

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“Getting into virtual reality is as easy as picking it up,” Bavor said about the device.

Bavor did not elaborate on the new headset’s technical specifications, but said that because it would be an all-in-one device. Google has been able to “prioritize everything” like the embedded sensors that track a person’s movement, Bavor said. By building an all-in-one device, Google has configured the headset’s underlying technology to solely focus on helping it display compelling virtual reality environments without any trade-offs, he explained.

These motion-tracking sensors will give a person “a stronger sense of being transported” to a virtual environment because they will presumably make it easier for people to move around and look at things in digital worlds like they do in real life.

Google’s current virtual reality headset, the Daydream View, must be connected to an Android-powered smartphone to function and is not capable of fully tracking a person’s movements.

Bavor said that Google is working with the computer chip company Qualcomm to create a design that other manufacturers can use to build their own versions. Lenovo and the Taiwan-based smartphone company HTC plan to build versions of the headset using the company’s blueprints, Bavor explained. HTC currently sells its own VR headset, the Vive, which requires a powerful computer to operate.

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Bavor also said that Samsung would make its new Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone compatible with Google’s Daydream View mobile headset via a software update. Samsung’s decision to make its technology compatible with Google’s is noteworthy considering Samsung sells a competing mobile VR headset, the Gear VR, which requires Samsung smartphones to operate.

Bavor said Google’s new VR headset would be available to the public later in the year.