Google's Standalone VR and VPS address the clutter and clumsiness of virtual reality

Plus 8 best business benefits of VR

IDG

IDG

Google said it has solved key problems with both augmented reality and its cousin, virtual reality, with a new standalone VR headset and a way to navigate indoors using visual reference points as a sort of indoor GPS, called VPS.

Google said it was working with both HTC and Lenovo to deliver the first standalone VR devices later this year.

Meanwhile, Google said consumers should expect the Asus Zenfone AR, a second-generation phone that uses Google’s Project Tango technology, to go on sale this summer.

Most manufacturers now see virtual reality and augmented reality as a spectrum of capabilities, and the lines between the two are beginning to blur even as the devices remain separate.

One of the big challenges, however, has been to give virtual reality users, whose vision is occluded by a headset that’s physically tethered to a PC, some freedom of movement.

Clay Bavor, Google’s vice president of virtual reality, claimed the new Standalone VR devices would drastically improve the current-generation experience (though it’s still not clear how).

“The idea is that you have everything you need for VR built right into the headset itself,” he said. “There’s no cables, no phone, and certainly no big PC.”

google vr standalone vr

Google plans to help develop standalone VR with Qualcomm, Lenovo, and HTC.

Bavor claimed the Standalone VR devices had displays and other components optimized for virtual reality activity. The devices will also use what Bavor called “precise tracking.” This is apparently a form of the inside-out tracking used by Microsoft’s HoloLens, which does not depend on external sensors to position the headset in the real world.

What’s unclear is whether these standalone VR devices will be self-contained, like the HoloLens, processing everything on the device. Both Intel and AMD have talked about a future where the PC remains the rendering engine, communicating data via high-throughput, short-range wireless link.

While Google’s approach eliminates the PC, it’s not clear whether the Google cloud will be tapped for the same purpose—Google simply didn’t say.

Augmented reality

If a standalone VR device offers some degree of movement, augmented reality is considered to be a truly mobile technology. Google developed Google Glass, an augmented-reality headset, then gave it up in favor of mobile phones. Its next game-changing technology in AR, it hopes, will be what its calls the Visual Positioning Service, or VPS.

google visual positioning system vps

Google's VPS uses visual points to establish location indoors.

Like GPS, VPS is a mapping technology. GPS uses satellites to position a phone outside, helping it navigate to the mall. Inside the mall, though, mobile devices have a far tougher time orienting themselves, relying on anything from Bluetooth beacons to simply guessing where the device is.

VPS uses a series of visual points—the end of an aisle, a light, objects on shelves—to establish a lock on where the user is. It’s a simple proposition: Once you’re in a store or a museum, you might want to know the location of the potato chips, or the paint department, or the Lincoln exhibit. By intelligently using the phone’s camera to “see” your location, VPS promises to guide you to your destination.

When VPS will roll out, though, is anyone’s guess. It’s also not clear whether Google will have to spend time mapping the interior of stores, as it has already done for big chunks of our exterior world.

gogole zenfone ar

The new Zenfone AR phone will roll out this summer.

Finally, Google showed off a new AR capability for Expeditions, its geographic app for schools. Expeditions already facilitates trips through the real world, and augmented reality will add yet another dimension. It will roll out later this year, Google said.

8 Best Business Benefits of VR


Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags businessGoogleVR

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?