Intel launches wireless Project Alloy headset for 'merged reality'
The increasingly crowded virtual reality market has a new player. Tech giant Intel has unveiled its take on VR with the launch of Project Alloy.
At the company's developer conference in Silicon Valley, the firm's CEO, Brian Krzanich, showed off the new "all-in-one virtual reality solution".
Working in "merged reality" the completely wireless headset aims to combine objects in the real-world with those the wearer sees through their headset. The hardware can sense whether a person is about to walk into a wall and show the approaching object through the internal viewer.
The technology also uses internal cameras and motion sensors to allow wearers to see their hands – providing the opportunity for interaction with real objects while they're in virtual worlds. At present the HTC Vive allows for movement control with a whole room set-up and Oculus is working on hand controllers for its Rdevice.
At the core of Intel's Project Alloy is its RealSense technology. First released in 2014, it is able to 3D scan a room in real-time and has since been used to help service robots navigate buildings.
In June, WIRED saw how the technology was being developed for VR; a hand stretched in front of the cameras and sensors could be seen on a digital display and interact with objects in pixellated environment. A hand movement could knock a digital object over, or disrupt the water flow of a digital fountain.
Intel isn't the only company developing headsets that bring together the physical and digital worlds. Often called 'mixed reality,' Magic Leap, the secretive US startup, is developing digital overlays for environments and has received more than $2 billion in investments – despite not having released a product. Meanwhile Microsoft is creating HoloLens.
Intel said the headset is capable of "a free range of motion with 6 degrees-of-freedom across a large space". And, unlike competitors, the developed device is completely wireless and self-contained; no cords are needed to power or input content to the device.
Those hoping to buy the headset will have to wait for some time as Intel isn't going to make the devices. Instead it will offer Project Alloy as an open hardware platform from next year. This means the company will not be selling the headsets itself but will make the technology available to other manufacturers.