HTC Releasing ‘Standalone’ Google Daydream VR Headset ‘Later This Year’

by Joe Durbin • May 17th, 2017

“No Phone. No PC. Standalone VR.”

This is the tagline accompanying the shadowy image of a brand new virtual reality headset that was unveiled today from the manufacturers of the popular Vive VR system: HTC.

At Google IO, Google’s VP of VR Clay Bavor announced that the Silicon Valley Juggernaut will be partnering with a myriad of different OEM partners to create a new line of “standalone” VR headsets. One of these partners is HTC.

Details of the new headset are very bare bones right now. What we do know is that the new headset will use a new inside-out positional tracking technology known as Worldsense. Worldsense combines a lot of Google’s machine learning, computer vision and SLAM research into a new form of tracking that uses finely tuned reference points to determine your position in 3D space.

The new headset will be releasing from HTC “later this year.”

According to a blog post published today, “more information on Vive’s standalone VR headset will be made available soon, but rest assured it will be simple, easy-to-use and with no cables to connect. Just pick it up, put it on and be fully immersed in your new reality.”

 

We will update this post as more information becomes apparent.

Update: The specifics of the Google Worldsense tracking system are unclear at the moment. What we do know is that the reference design was developed in partnership with Qualcomm and will allow users to “Lean, dodge and duck,” as they wish.

The word “walk” is noticeably missing from that list. What remains unclear is whether or not Worldsense is capable of providing room-scale VR experiences that let you take steps in any direction and turn around in 360 degrees. The sketch design for this headset also shows what appears to be a Google Daydream View remote controller.

This controller can only move with six degrees of freedom, not the six degrees of freedom that makes the Vive such a compelling system for many VR customers.

We will bring you more details on the exact specifications of the new Google/HTC headset as soon as the are made known.

Update 2: Clay Bavor has just confirmed to us that Worldsense does indeed use the 3 DOF controller. This strongly indicates that this HTC headset will be 3 DOF as well.

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  • Daniel Peterson

    Amazing news! And coming out this year too.

    • See my other comment. This is not what I expect most people are going to think it is. It’s not really the next “Vive”–the one I know most people are waiting to come next–it’s more just a Gear VR/Google Daydream VR solution, which isn’t even in the same league as the likes of Vive and Rift in terms of the overall quality of VR it can provide (particularly when it comes to tracking of both the headset and controllers), but now with the Vive name attached to it. Oculus marketing is far clearer here: The Rift is the proper top-end VR system, and the Gear VR is the budget mass=market and more casual headset for those who can’t really afford a proper VR setup.

      • Daniel Peterson

        Maybe the marketing is confusing, but it’s great for what it is. An untethered, standalone, quality VR solution. This is great progress towards the vision of cool vr glasses that are as easy to use as a smartphone. This is what consumers need.

        • NooYawker

          Like the gear or daydream it’s a great introduction to VR but most people have a smartphone already. What is the advantage of paying for more for a stand alone when you can just get the lower priced accessory .

          • Joan Villora Jofré

            Maybe eye tracking with foveated rendering, two screens, 90 fps, 110 fov, lighter… Who knows?

          • Most of that stuff isn’t in this headset. If it were in this headset it would have already been touted as as USP.

          • Candy Cab

            I’m sure not everyone wants to have upgrade to specific phone models to experience VR. Taking the phone out of the equation will benefit those who want VR but have no interest in dealing with phones on any level as well. Personally I will pass on having a battery strapped to my face regardless of the device 🙂

        • polysix

          It’s crap. It serves only to further poison the well. What we have now on PC is barely ‘real VR’ so a standalone has no chance. It’ll come across as a gimmick, bought by few, abandoned by all. VR tech is moving too fast to invest in ‘stand a lones’ with limited power/screens and any casuals would rather dabble with a phone add on.

          One day ‘they’ will realise this and stop messing around with nerfed VR and actually make VR a Real Reality then let THAT full fat VR tech trickle down (as tech and costs allow) rather than attempting to FORCE “crap VR” into the mainstream 10 years before it’s even ready (for that kind of form factor/cost)

          • Blair CLASSIFIED

            Found the person who hasn’t tried VR.

        • polysix

          “towards the vision of cool vr glasses that are as easy to use as a smartphone. This is what consumers need.”

          That is exactly what nobody needs. Are you serious? Are you living in dream land? Sure *IF* and when the tech was so amazing AND could fit in a pair of shades – sign me and the world up – matrix style. Right now even the best VR on earth with the fastest PCs running it is barely good enough to keep even HARDCORE VR fans who’ve been dreaming about VR since the early 90s (I’m one of them and have bought/sold DK2, Vive and PSVR in my quest for so called Virtual reality) and you think just making it cheap, comfy and easy to put on is what will make VR in the public’s mind?

          No, it’ll come off like a gimmick, because it doesn’t have the power, the resolution, the FOV , the hand tracking/6DOF controllers and a number of things that even the big VR guys haven’t quite sorted yet! This is clearly a quick cash grab by the tech industry, just like Facebook with GearVR, to get people invested in eco-systems early, but it has very little to do with long term VR Vision. Clearly they don’t mind putting many people off VR for life (with this nerfed crap) so long as they can secure the payments/subs from a portion of them. They don’t care that the tech isn’t worthy yet of even being called “Virtual Reality” they’ll con people and give them the bare bones version (mobile VR) with cartoon game after cartoon game, gaze shooters, wave shooters, limited control, social friggin apps that’ll end up like playstation home – empty and dull – and the world, the mass world will declare VR as a ‘fad’ just like the nay-sayers were saying back in DK1/2 days!

          That is NOT how to make VR deliver on its potential, and it is massive potential. These companies are not making these things for good VR they are making them to cash in, just like every other new tech before it (touchscreens, smart phones, 3DTV etc) the difference was all of those had an upper limit on requirements to be ‘amazing’ or at least great, VR still needs so much more tech/power/refinement it’s just not ready for consumers yet.

          When we finally get wireless PC HMDs, 4k/foveated and GPUs good enough to run them in their sleep (2018 – 2019?) THEN we have the very first starting point of good-enough VR. Until then it’s all going to come off like short lived fads, inc PSVR, inc Vive and Rift. None of it will count for anything until the tech is good enough to deliver on the lofty ideal of actual virtual “reality”. A mobile phone VR system without the ability to also use your phone is a dead duck. Mobile phone VR is crap anyway and now with this it’s crap AND pointless to pay for without other uses.

          PC VR users use their rigs for many other things = value. Same with mobile phones. Nobody wants nerfed VR in an outdated-as-soon-as-it’s-released format from an advertising company like google or facebook. #Fact

        • Yeah, but we already have that with the likes of Gear VR and Daydream for phones. If you have a mobile phone then already then there’s little reason to pick this over one of the current solutions available for the mobile phones. Naming it Vive, however, might trick quite a few people into believing otherwise.

  • It seems like this is just cashing in on the Vive brand and will actually trick a lot of consumers into thinking it will offer at least as good an experience as the current Vive but just without the wires, which really isn’t the case. I’m not sure I’m happy about this. I think the next Vive, especially if its wireless, needs to be a clear improvement on the current Vive in every way, not possibly something that’s more like a Daydream headset/solution hiding behind the Vive name.

    • cactus

      Not sure about the misunderstanding risk, we have to assume that it will be far more cheaper then a Vive VR set, so why should someone think it’s an improved version when read about it?
      Besides, even if will have an expensive price, like 300 / 400 $ who will pay that without asking himself about the real specs?

      Or at least it works in that way for me.
      I’m not enough rich to pay 400$ without knowing what I’m really buying.

      • Here’s how: “This is a totally wireless, self-contained Vive; it’s what everyone has been waiting for.”, or some variation of this. You know, the kind of marketing spiel that dupes a lot of ignorant people into thinking something is something slightly different to what it actually is in reality.

        • cactus

          Sorry but I think there’s still not a name for the device nor I saw a marketing campain or any slogan that confirm your assumptions.

          • Well, most of the major sites reporting on this new headset are already attaching the Vive name to it, and from some of the stuff I’ve read it seems to come from official press releases or whatever, so the damage is already being done to a degree, whether you see something or not.

          • cactus

            It’s quite probably HTC will use the ‘Vive’ brand for their VR products.
            But still don’t understand why it should be a problem.
            The Kindle, for example, has as wide range of products, but who could confuse an oasis with a fire?

          • You’re not paying enough attention if you can’t see how this could be used to trick a lot of people into believing this new headset is basically the next iteration/evolution of the current Vive headset when it’s absolutely not; and that not paying enough attention is exactly what all the people who get duped into hyping and/or purchasing will be doing too, which the people behind this naming are obviously aware of.

          • cactus

            Been used to trick people by…who?

          • By the people marketing/selling the product in a slightly misleading way.

          • cactus

            You mean..HTC? You really think it will be a misleading behaviour if they willl use their VR family product brand for one of their VR family product?

            In my humble opinion is something that will help to recongnize and distinguish easier the VR stuffs from any other HTC products.

            Like they already do, for example, with the UA brand for the fitness products.

        • Candy Cab

          If people are dumb enough to fall for hype and buy blindly without looking into a product then they deserve whatever they get. A little thing called common sense should be helping people to not make poor uneducated decisions when buying any product. Falling for hype is no ones problem but your own.

          • You clearly don’t know people if you imagine otherwise. A whole bunch of people will fall for this, by intentional design, and simply blaming them outright for a lack of common sense and whatever else is absolutely what an ignorant person would do–which is funny, considering that’s basically what you’re accusing them of.

  • Justos

    I was almost sold – until I saw this uses a 3dof controller.

    • Robbie Cartwright

      Same, seeing this almost 100% turns me in the other direction.

  • Joan Villora Jofré

    Any news from Lenovo?

  • polysix

    MEH standalones are a complete dead end. Why can many VR fanatics see that but these guys can’t?

    Why is it a dead end?

    Nobody wants to buy ‘all in’ hardware in an unproven market unless it’s <$100 (a standalone with any decent power never will be). VR fanatics don't want sub-par/nerfed VR with low power. Casuals would rather use a CHEAP add-on to something they already own/desire (a phone) and real VR fans want to invest cash in discreet parts – a HMD/Controller kit for their already super powerful PC to leverage their already spent costs.

    Also anyone with their nose to the ground with VR will know buying an 'all in' is ridiculous with the pace VR will improve over the next 2-3 years!

    As said, a dead end. At least until form factor and power are anything like they should be (20 years from now). Until then we need PC's or new powerful consoles to run – wireless – HMDs. Anything less isn't real VR, it's a gimmick and will wear people out/poison the well way before 'real' VR gets a chance to take a hold on the upper level.

    • Joan Villora Jofré

      But you can use it anywhere, anytime. It can only get better.

      • mirak

        You can already do that with your phone.
        Phone that you can’t use anyway when you have a standalone headset on the head.

        So there is no real benefit from having a separate standalone device.

        • Joan Villora Jofré

          It’s lighter, probably cheaper and more powerful, cooler, could bring eye tracking and foveated rendering, you would not have to put and take the mobile…

    • Standalones will eventually be the future of VR, that is inevitable and the correct way to go, but this model is a marketing trick designed to make people think it’s the next Vive, which is now amazing completely wireless and PC/mobile phone free, which is a totally dupe.

  • rabs

    Reposting what I wrote in the other article:

    Given that HTC is working with many kind of businesses for the desktop Vive, maybe they found a market for that.
    I see many that used Samsung Gear VR, even though they had to buy a fancy phone just to get a correct mobile headset. This will have inside-out tracking and more efficient hardware (heat dispersion, feature/price).

    But for the general public, I also have doubts it will find success…

  • Pharaoh

    For those questioning the Vive brand strategy: iPhone does just fine across many form factors and releases.