First look: Intel Project Alloy all-in-one merged reality headset

[ad_1]

These days, everyone’s making a virtual or augmented reality headset.

Microsoft is making the HoloLens. Google pioneered cheap virtual reality headsets with Cardboard and will soon release an Android-powered VR platform called Project Daydream.

Facebook owns Oculus, the makers of the Rift. HTC and Steam partnered to release the Vive. Sony is releasing PlayStation VR for its PS4 game system on October 13. Razer has already released the OSVR HDK 2, and AMD is collaborating on an Oculus Rift rival of its own with a company called Sulon Technologies.

Heck, even 170-year-old lens maker Carl Zeiss is getting in on the action.

My point here, obviously, is that the virtual and augmented reality headset market is a crowded space. But that competition didn’t stop Intel, world-leading producer of CPUs, from jumping headfirst into the fray with its brand-new platform, Project Alloy.

Intel Project Alloy

The headset was announced by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at the Intel Developer Forum held in San Francisco and while there’s some very obvious comparisons to the half-dozen other headsets on the market already, Project Alloy has some very key differences: it’s completely tetherless, doesn’t need any external sensors and it will be powered by a 6th Gen Intel Core processor. Krzanich called it a merged reality headset – a headset that can switch in-between augmented reality and virtual reality putting you into a virtual environment surrounded by real, physical items.

Krzanich joked that with merged reality you could experience all the joys virtual reality had to offer without the pain that true, all-immersive VR brings – e.g. no more bumping into walls, putting your hand through the TV and falling off the stage during a presentation because you couldn’t see what’s in front of you.

Taken at face value, Alloy looks like it’s a smart take on a crowded genre, but when will it come out and what, exactly, can you expect to use it for? Krzanich had few staunch details to share. We know that Intel is aiming for the second half of 2017 for a release date, and that it’d like to get units into developer’s hands by December of this year, but there’s been no word on how much it’d cost or what developers have already signed on board.

Intel Project Alloy

Then there’s also the elephant in the room to consider – Microsoft’s own AR/VR platform, HoloLens, that in many ways looks significantly better than Project Alloy despite being announced over a year ago that could kill Intel’s latest tech before it ever takes off.

While we may not know everything about it just yet, here’s what we know about Intel’s vision for merged reality so far.

Design

Project Alloy, aesthetically speaking, seems like a cross between Sony’s PlayStation VR and Samsung’s Gear VR – it’s mostly covered in pristine white plastic minus the back headband that packs a battery and tightening screw.

It’s an easy comparison to draw to the Gear VR – not only are the colors the same, but there looks like there’s a lightness about the headset … not that Intel is letting anyone try one on this early in the game.

But while it might look more like a fusion of Samsung and Sony’s wearables, it will function – primarily – more like Microsoft’s HoloLens.