The VR headset race is really heating up with Sony using this year's Tokyo Game Show to give a preview of its forthcoming Virtual Reality attraction — a headset that will undercut rivals as the technology bids to enter the mainstream of the $80bn global games industry. The event is the last major showcase before the Christmas sales peak and the October 13 launch of the PlayStation VR headset — a device that will debut with a price at least $200 lower than its two principal rivals: the HTC Vive and Facebook's Oculus Rift, reports the Financial Times this morning. And this week the U.S. Patent Office revealed an invention from Google showing that they're now working on a VR headset of their own.
Google's VR Headset Invention
Google notes in their patent filing that in general, virtual reality can surround and immerse a person in a computer-generated, three-dimensional (3D) environment. The person can enter this environment by interacting with and/or physically wearing specific electronic devices. Example electronic devices can include, but are not limited to, a helmet that includes a screen, glasses or goggles that a user looks through when viewing a screen (e.g., a display device or monitor), gloves fitted with sensors, and external handheld devices that include sensors. Once the person enters the VR space, the person can interact with the 3D environment in a way (e.g., a physical way) that seems real to the person.
Google's invention focuses on a system for providing a virtual reality (VR) space or headset that has the ability to interact with an Android smartphone for gameplay and other needed controls. The mobile computing device can be configured to execute a VR application, and provide content for display on the screen of the VR headset in the VR space.
Google notes that example implementations may include one or more of the following features. For instance, the mobile computing device can be coupled to the VR headset using a tethered wired connection. The tethered wired connection can include a shape sensing cable configured to determine a position of the mobile computing device.
The mobile computing device can be coupled to the VR headset using a wireless connection. The VR headset can include another mobile computing device. A display device included in the other mobile computing device included in the VR headset can be the screen. The other computing device can be configured to render the provided content for display on the display device.
The VR headset can further include a position detection device configured to determine a position of the mobile computing device. The position detection device can be a camera.
The mobile computing device can include a display device. The mobile computing device can be further configured to display a Quick Response (QR) code on the display device. The camera can detect an orientation of a QR code displayed on the display device of the mobile computing device. The position detection device can be an Infrared (IR) sensor configured to detect output from a plurality of IR light emitting diodes (LEDs).
The system can further include a case that can accommodate the mobile computing device. The case can include the plurality of IR LEDs. The mobile computing device can be placed in the case. The VR application can determine a position of the mobile computing device based on the detection of the output from the plurality of IR LEDs. The mobile computing device can include a touchscreen. The plurality of IR LEDs can be located behind the touchscreen. The VR application can determine a position of the mobile computing device based on the detection of the output from the plurality of IR LEDs. The plurality of IR LEDs can be embedded within the touchscreen. The VR application can determine a position and orientation of the mobile computing device based on the detection of the output from the plurality of IR LEDs.
Google's patent FIGS. 4A, 4B, 5A and 6A can all be enlarged by clicking on the image. In the big picture, Google's version of VR almost borders on what's called Mixed Reality or MR where the user can be in a VR world and yet have their hands enter the scene to use their smartphone as a controller of a game being played. The four figures below illustrate this reality.
In the example shown in FIG. 6A the user is playing a video game and is able to interact in a VR space as a fighter jet. The VR application can display controls on a display of a smartphone which are seen in VR scene as noted above.
Google further notes that a user wearing the VR headset can also use eye tracking and head position to select an object in the VR space.
Applications beyond Gaming
Beyond gaming, users will be able to use their VR headset as a high-end computer display along with a keyboard. The user's smartphone could be converted into a trackpad when the VR headset is in computer mode.
With a notebook, the VR headset could provide users with added information. While working, a user's email could popup in their VR headset without the user having to leave their work on the notebook's display.
A computer user could hit a link to a video and the video start to play in the VR headset without the user having to leave the page they're on. Users could also do a word or document search using voice with Google and have the results show up only in the headset while the user never leaves the page that they're working on.
In the End
In the end, Google may have shifted their focus from Google Glass to that of a new VR headset project as presented in this patent filing. The public gave Google Glass a big thumbs down while the public can't get enough of VR for gaming. Google Glass experience should allow Google's team to get up to speed on VR rather quickly and we may even hear about this project by the time their next I/O developer conference rolls around in 2017.
With Facebook choosing to work with Samsung and their Gear VR, will Google now team up with other Android OEM's for this VR Headset or will they try to go it alone like were willing to do with Google Glass? Only time will tell.
Google filed their patent application back in February 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
A Note for Tech Sites covering our Report: We ask tech sites covering our report to kindly limit the use of our graphics to one image. Thanking you in advance for your cooperation.
Patently Mobile presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. About Posting Comments: Patently Mobile reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Those using abusive language or behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.