Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is developing a virtual reality headset that doesn't require a smartphone, PC or game console, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The gadget could be the first stand-alone VR headset on the market and would pit Google in direct competition with Oculus, a Facebook property that next month will begin shipping a $600 headset powered by a PC. Google is also developing a "Nexus-style" version of its Cardboard headset, The Financial Times reported earlier this week, which will feature improved sensors and lenses encased in plastic.
Google shipped more than 5 million Cardboard units in the 19 months since the product was released, the company said last month, and users have launched 10 million "more immersive app experiences." The $20 device uses a smartphone as a screen.
VR was a major theme at CES in Las Vegas last month, and for good reason: Goldman Sachs predicts the market will be worth $80 billion by 2025, with video entertainment accounting roughly $3.2 billion of that sum. Smartphone manufacturers HTC and Sony are planning to launch VR headsets that require a PC or gaming console later this year, and Samsung already offers a $100 viewer that integrates with its phones.
Many companies from outside the mobile world are pursuing VR as well, including heavyweights such as Comcast, Time Warner Cable and CableLabs. One challenge for wireless carriers and app developers will be integrating cellular connectivity to differentiate their offerings in the market.
It's unclear when Google's reported stand-alone headset might come to market, and the Journal noted that two sources indicated it is still in the early stages of development and may not see a commercial release. Also unclear is whether the gadget would run the Android operating system.
- see this Wall Street Journal report
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