Smartphone virtual reality is fun, but it's got nothing on the PC-powered HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. Later this year Google will attempt to take the best parts of smartphone and desktop VR and make a better VR experience to create what it's calling Standalone VR.
As the name suggests, the headsets will be wireless like the Google Daydream View and Samsung Gear VR. However, they won't require a phone and will offer more power, putting it on a par with PC-powered headsets.
Google was mum on specific details like processor, battery life and price during its Google I/O keynote today (May 17). Google is conducting a separate AR/VR keynote for Day 2 of I/O tomorrow, so hopefully there will be more information then. Google VP Clay Bavor did announce that Google has partnered with Qualcomm, HTC and Lenovo, which makes me pretty optimistic for the new product line.
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Lenovo is also working with Microsoft to launch its take on a Windows 10 VR headset. When combined with HTC's groundbreaking work with the Vive and Qualcomm's chip-making expertise, this Standalone VR has a solid pedigree. However, notably missing was any mention of a positional tracking system, curbing hopes for free-moving VR like you have with both the Vive and the Rift.
Still, whatever Google has up its sleeve, it's sure to be a big step forward for the VR industry. Here's hoping that the headset is affordable enough to make it viable with mainstream consumers.