Virtual, Augmented Realities Merge with Linq Headset

Today's most popular headsets tend to go one of two directions, delivering experiences in either virtual or augmented reality. Stereolabs, a company best-known for its ZED stereo camera, now has a headset that features a mixture of both.

Stereolabs says its new Linq mixed-reality headset combines the finer features in virtual reality and augmented reality. There's no date on when the Linq might wind up in consumers' hands and no price given yet, though Stereolabs told Engadget that it plans to set a price that's around what a game console might cost.

Like VR devices such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, the Linq headset fits on your head and lets you view content and play games. It comes with high-definition stereo cameras and can perceive what's around it up to 20 meters away. You'll be able to look through the headset to see the real world, but also find virtual elements overlaid on it, even casting shadows on the floor and illuminating a room as real-world objects would.

MORE: VR Mega Guide: Features and Release Dates

On a technical note, Stereolabs says Linq will come with a front-mounted sensor. The stereo camera is capable of looking at the world and replicating the way in which human vision works. What's more, Linq supports positional tracking and there's no need for you to "map out" your environment before you can start playing a game.

Linq joins an increasingly crowded market. Besides sophisticated headsets like the Rift and Vive, other devices such as Samsung's Gear VR and Google's Daydream View cost less and rely on smartphones to power their experiences. On the augmented-reality side, Microsoft is leading the way with its HoloLens.

Stereolabs won't say how well its Linq will be supported among developers, but did say in a statement that it will deliver a development version to developers and "partners" in early 2017 to get them thinking about software for the device. While Stereolabs also hasn't siad just yet what kind of content might come to the device, it's likely that games and similar forms of entertainment will be made available. The company says the Linq will run off a Windows PC or Linux computer.

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