SAN FRANCISCO: CHIPMAKER Intel has made its first big-boy strides into the world of virtual reality (VR) with the launch of Project Alloy, the first "completely contained” head-mounted display (HMD).
Project Alloy was launched at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, and is claimed to be the first untethered VR headset, ditching the cords and controllers found on the likes of HTC's Vive and the Oculus Rift to allow it to function without having to connect to a PC or smartphone.
The headset contains dual Intel RealSense modules and six degrees-of-freedom motion sensors that equip the device with full-depth sensing and room tracking.
These camera sensors set Project Alloy apart from rival VR headsets by allowing wearers to use their hands inside the VR environment rather than dedicated controllers. Support for five-finger tracking also allows more accurate control.
This RealSense set-up also allows other objects to be brought into the frame, and makes it possible to dodge obstacles while wearing the headset, such as, er, a pixelated Intel CEO.
A battery comes built into the back end of the HMD, but Intel hasn't yet said how long Project Alloy will last on a single charge, nor has it spilled the beans on further hardware specifications.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said: “VR represents a fundamental shift that changes how we work, how we are entertained and how we communicate. However, at present, to do VR well you need a dedicated space. But, to me, that’s not really a virtual world.
"Project Alloy feels as much real as it does virtual. Things from the real world can come into the virtual world, and vice versa. It’s so different from anything else out there right now. We believe that the capabilities of Alloy are truly significant.”
Intel has partnered with Microsoft on the software side. Project Alloy is powered by Microsoft's Windows Holographic OS, currently seen on the company's HoloLens headset.
Intel brought out INQUIRER favourite Terry Myerson, who spoke about Microsoft's joint effort to create a specification for mixed reality-ready PCs and HMDs.
Myerson, who, let’s be honest, couldn’t not talk about Windows 10, also revealed that Microsoft will release an update to the operating system next year that will include the Windows Holographic shell, allowing all PCs running Windows 10 to easily hook up to a Windows-powered VR headset (below).
Intel, which was clearly unaware that any women were present, showed off Project Alloy in action using a promotional video starring Robin Thicke, and demonstrated the 360 Replay technology as seen through the eyes of Project Alloy.
Krzanich claimed that the ability to showcase footage in 360-degrees from any angle means that the technology has the potential to revolutionise the film industry.
Intel, taking aim at Google's Daydream reference design platform, said that it will make the Alloy hardware open source in the first half of 2017, enabling developers to create their own branded products from the Alloy design. µ
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