Intel has its very own VR headset, and it's like no headset you've seen before. It's a fully untethered, fully immersive experience that doesn't require a cord, with built-in RealSense cameras that let you see your hands, even reach out and interact with objects inside a virtual world.
We got a closer look at the 2016 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, and here's what we saw.
Here's the Intel Project Alloy prototype on a table. Not too shabby, right? Definitely not bad for an early prototype of a reference design that will be totally rethought by headset manufacturers before it ever sees a store shelf.
It's a little heavy -- maybe 2 to 3 pounds -- but again, early days.
This spiderlike piece of metal is where much of the magic happens. It's a 3D-printed section with two Intel RealSense depth cameras (three lenses each!) and two fish-eye cameras on the sides for tracking things in your peripheral vision.
That's the RealSense 400, and Intel claims it's a huge leap forward for VR. While previous RealSense could only see things between 3m and 20m away, the new sensor has a range of 0.1m to 60m, plus a wider field of view and far more resolution. Intel says it captures 55 million 3D points per second, 3x the previous version.
You can probably expect to see it in future Alloy headsets.
This big band around back houses the Alloy's rechargeable battery, and serves as a nice counterbalance for the headset. The padded band rests underneath the back of your head, much like Sony's PlayStation VR.
Around the sides, the band ratchets into place with a pair of invisible latches built into the frame. It felt a little bit tight on my head, but I can't really complain, since it's an early prototype of a reference design that won't ever be sold to consumers.
Inside, it looks much like any other high-end VR headset -- like an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift -- though we can't comment on image quality or field of view because we couldn't power on this unit. We can see what appear to be a pair of custom Fresnel lenses.