Intel Teases VR Market with Project Alloy Headset

Colin McMahon
Aug 19, 2016
To date, the virtual reality (VR) headset market has been developing along two paths: wired devices that need a computer to run, and wireless devices that run off a smartphone. Intel, however, is looking to enter the market in a bold new way. Its proposed Project Alloy, unveiled August 16th, is a complete wireless VR platform. For the first time, users will be able to enter VR wherever they are, without the aid of further technology.

Project Alloy is ambitious on multiple levels. Not only does this device intend to be the first self-sustained VR system, but it intends to be more than a headset display. Intel will use its RealSense technology to allow for tracking of the user’s facial emotions, as well as projecting the user’s hands into the VR space. Intel also claims that Alloy will have built-in avoidance detection software to prevent user injury. Project Alloy will also support six degrees of full freedom, meaning that the user’s head movements will also be fully tracked and synced to the image in the headset.

Project Alloy's design is very similar to the Sony PlayStation VR headset, which has been praised by early critics for its comfort and ease-to-wear.

Project Alloy’s design is very similar to the Sony PlayStation VR headset, which has been praised by early critics for its comfort and ease-to-wear.

Part of Project Alloy’s RealSense tech allows for mixed reality, or what Intel has dubbed “merged reality” to take place. This means using the user’s actual hands to interact with something in the virtual world – and not just hands. In the video above, the tester uses actual currency to mold a virtual golden object.

Intel intends for Project Alloy to be an open system, and referenced using the hardware with the upcoming Windows Holographic software. It is unknown at this time what other software Project Alloy will support.

InfoTrends’ Opinion

Project Alloy represents a significant step forward. While not as robust or precise as the HTC Vive, Alloy appears to be at least as, if not more, powerful than smartphone-powered VR headsets. The system has been confirmed to be running using a PC-class” 6th-generation Intel Core processor. The inclusion of hand interface also allows for precise controls that are not possible on the Samsung Gear or even the in-development Google Daydream.

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Intel’s use of RealSense as an avoidance detection software also represents a strong step in solving one of the larger problems for untethered (wireless) VR. The user’s ability to move without fear of injury opens many doors in VR programming. As seen in the video, the system does not appear perfect yet (the tester is relatively afraid of falling off the stage), but it is unknown if this will still be the case when Project Alloy is commercially released.

Project Alloy is currently slated to hit the market sometime in 2017.

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