Good news for VR-heads seeking more variety beyond in their choice of VR headsets. This fall, an unnamed developer, corporate entity, or alien mother ship will be releasing an Intel Alloy headset to eager VR consumers. This is great news for consumers and developers alike. The Project Alloy headsets will contain traditional VR head tracking and Real sense cameras that allow it to see and provide users a 3d imagery. At the same time, Alloy’s will contain sophisticated Movidius tech that will allow the headset to quickly process incoming imagery. This array of tech-specs will provide developers awesome tools for making unique roomscale VR experiences.
What is Project Alloy?
First, before getting into the details, I will briefly describe Project Alloy. This new headset is developed and powered by Intel hardware and software. Project Alloy is different from front runners like the Oculus and the HTC Vive for a few reasons. First of all, it is wireless. All the processing occurs within the headset itself. For obvious reasons, this will make it less powerful than the aforementioned headsets.
Beyond being wireless, the Project Alloy headset will have a unique positional tracking system. Using two Intel RealSense cameras affixed to the headset, Alloy can locate itself spatially. Intel calls this “inside-out positional tracking.” This allows Alloy users to roam free. Therefore, Alloy is uniquely suited for roomscale virtual reality experiences. Intel’s product demos place particular emphasis on this aspect of Project Alloy.
The RealSense cameras are the Project Alloy’s eyes. RealSense cameras differ from traditional digital cameras because they use a variety of software and laser hardware to capture and interpret images. Similar to Microsoft’s Kinect, RealSense cameras contain infrared lasers and cameras. Emitting infrared lasers while recording the beams with the infrared camera allows the RealSense cameras to infer depth information. Overall, this setup allows 3d space to be measured, captured, and interpreted by software algorithms.
Beyond using RealSense cameras to track the headset’s location in space, Project Alloy relies on Movidius technology as well. Intel bought Movidius for their system-on-chip sensors that were designed to aid computer vision applications. Movidius’ technology also provides Intel and Project Alloy deep learning algorithms that aid depth processing, mapping, navigation, and natural interactions.
Release Fall 2017
A late 2017 release of an Intel licensed Project Alloy is great and somewhat unexpected news. Intel first showed off Project Alloy in early 2017 to an eager VR public while stating keeping their lips tight about release dates. Going from unlicensed product demo to release in less than a year is a super quick transition. This means that the Project Alloy must be a strong well-crafted device that only requires a small amount of further development and testing.
Besides saying a product based on Alloy is coming Fall 2017, Intel is providing few details regarding the mysterious developer that has licensed their tech. Rather than outing the developer using their reference design, Intel is probably letting them set the stage for themselves. In other words, the licensee will have their own product announcement. Perhaps such an announcement will be at E3?