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Google continues tinkering with Virtual Reality headsets
February 29, 2016, 4:17 pm

Google is developing a standalone virtual reality headset that will be several steps removed from its Cardboard VR. Instead of relying on a user's smartphone and a lens-fitted cardboard headset, the new product will have all the necessary components built in.

The new headset will also not have to rely on a PC or a console for processing power as do Sony's PlayStation VR, HTC's Vive and Oculus VR's Rift headsets. It will have integrated processors, lenses, cameras and sensors. Chipmaker Movidius is providing the chips for the headset, enabling the device to track the motion of the user's head based on input from the product's cameras.

Pricing is expected to fall in the mid-tier range.  A mid-tier headset follows the logic of Cardboard. Google has introduced more than five million people to VR, and a standalone product could take those followers on an even more immersive experience.

A standalone Google VR headset would be an interesting play. With the Oculus Rift set at US$600 and the Vive expected to top that, there is a gulf between high-end VR experiences and the Cardboard and Gear VR types. Filling that gap could make the Google device priced to sell well, picking up consumers let down by the high cost of the Rift.

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