Intel's race to build a new virtual reality   

Intel virtual reality

Virtual reality is the new frontier for many in the tech industry. This year saw the release of some of the first consumer headset models, now sitting in homes throughout the country. The PlayStation VR sold 50,000 units in its first week in Japan. The Samsung Gear was used by a million people in April. The point is, virtual reality is no longer some pipedream but is as regularly used as many other tech products. But industry giant, Intel, is attempting to go further than expected.

Merged reality

While other headsets, like Sony’s, are specifically designed for gamers, Intel hopes to take this much further and broaden the horizon of alternate reality headsets. Its first major creation in the area of headsets is known as Project Alloy. As TechCrunch recently reported, Intel’s interest in Alloy is what they call “merged reality”.

“Merged reality is basically a fusion of VR and computer vision that gives a virtual reality headset the ability to understand the context around it, including the people, places and things that are unique to the environment.”

The company has also used its “RealSense computer vision camera arrays”, to power robots, drones, and autonomous cars for some time. It is this technology that merged reality will depend on. It differs from both augmented and virtual reality by merging the two: you should be able to see the objects and people around you, but in a virtual environment. As TechCrunch eloquently puts it, they want to merge “the impossible environments of VR with the physical complexities of reality”.

What this means for virtual reality headsets

As Intel stresses, they’re not a consumer-facing company when it comes to hardware. They hope the technology being developed in Alloy will expand to work with other companies, like Microsoft. As The Verge noted, Intel is tapping into the difficult area many have tried to conquer: “if anyone is going to figure out how to strike the right balance between just-okay mobile VR and heavy-duty tethered VR headsets, it might as well be Intel.”

Mobile headsets have come a long way, changing everything from mobile marketing to app development. Their accessibility and size has meant more people are experiencing virtual reality, even if it’s lower quality than the more expensive units. Nonetheless, when such technology is affecting everything from mobile apps to marketing, it’s worth taking seriously considering the growth of the mobile market. If Intel can breach this gap with sophisticated tech development, it could change how people use their phones forever.

As we’ve pointed out before, advanced tech in mobile has led to all sorts of sophisticated developments, like personalized shopping for consumers. With virtual reality developments, businesses can probably take these kinds of ideas in directions they’d never considered before.

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