August 19, 2016

Headset

Intel’s annual IDF developer conference is in full swing this week, and they unveiled quite a bit of new technology that any geek would get quite excited about. One of the most interesting announcements at the conference however, would have to be the introduction of a new ‘merged reality’ headset the company is dubbing Project Alloy.

The headset uses Intel’s Realsense motion sensing technology in conjunction with additional computational hardware to interact with real world objects, blending them into the virtual environment rendered by the head mounted display. In a demo at the IDF conference, an engineer shaved down a block of virtual gold using a physical dollar bill, showcasing the level of virtual interactivity present within the device.

We believe the capability of Alloy and what it introduces is significant. It gives the opportunity to merge the physical and virtual world together,

says Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel.

A strong driver in building the headset was the possibility of injury present in current full motion experiences such as the HTC Vive. Many of these headsets have methods of stopping users from bumping into physical boundaries, but do not fully interact with the world around them.

Microsoft has been working on an extremely similar mixed reality headset it calls the Hololens. While this headset has been around for a number of months now, Microsoft’s chief of Windows Terry Myerson came on stage to announce that the company is more concerned about making the software powering the device available to the masses. In his announcement, he explained that Windows Holographic platform, which powers the company’s proprietary hardware, will be available on all Windows 10 PC’s beginning in 2017. Because of this, any VR or AR HMD will have the ability to run the apps developed for use with Hololens, including the device Intel has just announced.

Microsoft is not the only one giving away something for free however. Intel is also making its Project Alloy headset open sourced, meaning developers have full ability to create their own wondrous experiences for use with the HMD.

Anybody can take the Alloy hardware, combine it with Windows Holographic, and build a world-class virtual reality system with any manufacturer they choose,

says Krzanich.

Iterating on the idea of mixed reality is an extremely exciting prospect, as it means that we could potentially see mixed holographic realities become a lot more common in the coming years.

What is your opinion on the headset? Looking to pick one up?

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