Intel is building its own standalone VR headset: Project Alloy

Intel is working on a standalone "merged reality" headset, Project Alloy, that will be compatible with Microsoft's Windows Holographic platform.

As part of a keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco today, company chief Brian Krzanich announced that Intel is working on a standalone "mixed reality" headset, Project Alloy, that will be compatible with Microsoft's Windows Holographic platform.

What this means, for devs, is still a bit nebulous: Krzanich noted that Intel plans an open-source release of Project Alloy's hardware specs and APIs late next year, potentially jumpstarting a wave of VR/AR tech and software development.

He also told Fast Company that while the standalone version of Alloy will be powerful enough to run most current VR games, it might not be able to handle them all -- and a variant which must be attached to a PC may be possible down the road.

But "for 90 percent of what people do with VR, it's perfect, and it's untethered," he said.

Project Alloy itself seems designed to be a bit akin to Microsoft's upcoming HoloLens augmented-reality headset: The Verge reports that Alloy, like, HoloLens, will be built as a standalone battery-powered headset capable of blending the virtual and the real to create mixed-reality (though Intel prefers to describe Alloy as creating "merged reality") experiences.

Unlike HoloLens, Project Alloy is built to be a VR headset first. Where HoloLens overlays virtual images on the real world via glass screens, Alloy is an enclosed VR headset sporting 3D cameras and sensors (driven by Intel's RealSense motion-tracking tech, naturally) that can track and pipe in images of real-world objects. Think: Hands,objects, and other people/things an Alloy wearer might appreciate not bumping into while wearing the headset.

Developers interested in building games and experiences for Alloy should note that it will be capable of running Windows Holographic, the Windows 10-based mixed-reality app platform Microsoft announced last year. 

The current Windows Holographic flagship is HoloLens, but during Intel's event today Microsoft's Terry Myerson popped onstage to confirm that Windows Holographic will be made available on all Windows 10 PCs sometime next year. 

All this comes during a year in which Intel plans a massive restructuring (involving massive layoffs) to transition into "a company that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices" instead of one focused on desktop and laptop PCs.

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