On stage at the company’s Google I/O 2017 developer conference today, the company announced that it is building standalone Daydream VR headsets. The first partners work with the company to bring such headsets to market is HTC and Lenovo.

Google announced Daydream, their high-end Android VR platform at I/O last year, and then launched the Daydream View headset, which is powered by a snap-in smartphone, in late 2016. Now the company has announced that it is building standalone VR headsets for Daydream which build everything into the headset.

In a surprise announcement, Google says one of the first companies it is working with to develop a standalone Daydream headset is HTC, which makes the high-end Vive VR headset for PC. Lenovo was also announced as a partner working a standalone Daydream VR headset. On stage an outline teaser of two different looking VR headsets was teased. These devices will launch later in 2017, Google said.

First Glimpse of HTC's Standalone Vive Headset Powered by Google Daydream, Launching Later This Year

The standalone Daydream VR headsets will include inside-out positional tracking (a big upgrade over the rotational-only tracking of the smartphone-required Daydream View headset) using a computer-vision based technology that the company is calling ‘World-sense’. The tracking tech won’t require any external beacons or sensors to enable positional tracking.

Clay Bavor, Google’s VP of VR, said on stage that the benefit of a standalone headset is that everything is built right in, and the device can be built and optimized for VR rather than being stuck with the constraints of a smartphone.

Bavor says that Google worked with Qualcomm to create a reference version of the standalone Daydream VR headset. This will form a foundation from which partners like HTC, Lenovo, and others can build their own standalone headsets for Daydream.

This story is breaking. Check back for more information as it comes.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • beestee

    Oooh…this discussion is going to be good!

    Lighthouse what?

    • kontis

      100 years ago headphones were invented. This was the begging of the end of speakers. Walkman completely killed speakers in the 80s.

      Similar thing happened to DSLRs and the companies like Canon and Nikon, which were killed by the iPhone in 2007.

      iPhone also eliminated PCs and laptops. The touchscreen made keyboard and mouse pointless.

      These Daydream headsets cannot support tracked wands, but the integrated leap motion will make everyone happy. I like to use my own fingers to paint and eat. Once I discovered that I have hands I sold all my forks and pencils.

      And if you need 10 tracked objects you just use 20 cameras, 10 hot GPUs, 10 large batteries, some water cooling and pray to neural network gods to not freak out with all these dynamic changes in the tracking volume.

      • towblerone

        >iPhone also eliminated PCs and laptops.

        What? lol

        • beestee

          Chill. It’s satire.

      • whitedragon101@gmail.com

        Moving from tracking that requires base stations to tracking that doesn’t is more like :

        Wooden club to iron sword
        Dragging items to wheeled carts

        I.e. A technology used for the exact purpose as a previous one that is objectively better.

        Tracking without base stations is an objectively better system that one which requires them. While the current state of technology has not found a way to extend this ability to controllers and tracked objects, it is inevitable that it will. It’s just a matter of time. Once that happens lighthouse will disappear. It does not have an alternative use case like headphones = one listener/ speakers = many listeners.

        Until that happens Lighthouse is a great system for the present.
        The chances are that Valve already have people working on coming up with an inside out system to smoothly take over when that occurs.

        • Guesty

          These new things have gone back to the octoganal wheels cave men got rid of in the 90’s. Its going to be a bumpy ride again until they learn from the mistakes of the past instead of repeating them!

        • Jack H

          There are cases where statistical tracking like SLAM isn’t good enough and Lighthouse or camera-and-2D pattern tracking will remain for those cases.

          • whitedragon101@gmail.com

            These cases are becoming fewer and fewer. Outside in is necessary for now but it only a matter of time before inside out replaces it. Its just a matter of timescale.

            Google have an inside out VR tracking system they are releasing to the mass market this year. Given they and HTC are well versed in the level of accuracy/latency required for VR to avoid sickness and the fact that a mobile headset must be able to deal with a wide variety of environments I am hopeful. If it is sub 20ms motion to photons sub mm tracking then I’d say the timescale may be rather short.

            Where outside in may continue to be useful for a while is full body tracking. However, an effective camera based system would provide a more flexible and elegant solution for this.

        • Jim Cherry

          why not just add inside out tracking to next headset iteration but keep light house for tracking all non headset movement?

          • whitedragon101@gmail.com

            I suspect this is the direction Oculus will be taking. Inside out for the headset and external cameras to track the controllers and do marker-less skeletal capture like they showed in F8.

        • Joel Wilkinson

          Except that up until now it’s a technology that’s been objectively worse. I’m pretty sure in terms of accuracy it will always be objectively worse, you’ll just get to a quality level where the inaccuracies are imperceptible and so you don’t care and the convenience it offers is more important.

          That said, I don’t think it’s as big a jump as you’re implying. Even if their worldsense system is close to the accuracy of lighthouse, it will only achieve that quality if used in the same area repeatedly and if that area has features that are conducive to the system. That means that the only real advantage it has over lighthouse is the lack of a short one time setup operation where the base stations are installed. This seems pretty negligible.

          At the extreme end of the spectrum where inside-out becomes perfectly able to track motion in any environment it still doesn’t make that big a difference for VR. You’re not going to walk down the street with a VR headset on. It’s still something that you’re going to do in a specific space free of obstacles. Walking down the street would be the domain of AR and that’s a somewhat different beast.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        you’re a funny guy… I hope you were being sarcastic…

    • LOL.
      Actually outside in tracking is still better to track controllers and other additional peripherals

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Ofcourse at this moment, but who knows, if controllers will have it’s own mini insideout tracking…….

        • WyrdestGeek

          Actually — it would probably be pretty spiffy to have a system, and controllers, that could more or less ‘get by’ with inside-out-tracking, but that were also fully compatible with outside-in, especially for controllers, if available. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were to announce something like that for HTC stuff in the next six months.