Asus may be planning Microsoft HoloLens competitor in its VR push

Asus plans untethered VR headsets that could bring new 3D PC experiences

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An attendee to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona tries out a virtual reality headset on Feb. 22, 2016.

Credit: Martyn Williams

Virtual reality headsets are considered the hot new PC devices, and Asus is planning to stake a claim of its own. 

Asus on Wednesday said it intends to release VR headsets. VR headsets can be versatile 3D PCs that make 2D laptops and desktops look pale in comparison, Asus said at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

"Asus has a few VR options coming up really soon. Once that happens, you will be free from devices and immersed in 360 degrees of pure entertainment that will blow you away," said Jen Chuang, Asus' design center director.

Asus didn't provide further details, but the company seems to want to focus on untethered VR headsets, or perhaps even mixed-reality headsets like Microsoft's HoloLens. It could tap into a few technologies to do so.

Asus is already planning to release a smartphone based on Google's Daydream mobile VR platform, for example. A smartphone will need to be plugged into a specially configured headset for users to roam VR worlds, stream movies, or interact with friends. Asus could release a VR headset based on Google's Daydream specifications.

Considering Asus likened VR headsets to PCs, the company could also be thinking of a mixed reality headset like Microsoft's HoloLens. Asus could make an augmented reality headset based on Intel's Project Alloy reference design, which runs on Microsoft's Windows Holographic platform.

Like HoloLens, Project Alloy can superimpose real-world images into virtual worlds, which could be used in gaming, product troubleshooting, and education. Alloy is powered by Intel's Skylake chip and has a 3D RealSense camera and sensors to track movement and gestures. Intel will open up the Alloy design early next year for device makers to make their own branded products.

Asus already has a VR strategy for headsets tethered to PCs. It has a line of high-end PCs ready for the Oculus Rift headset. It also sells high-end motherboards for home-brewed gaming PCs.

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