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Google reportedly building a completely stand-alone virtual reality headset

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No smartphone or PC required

On Sunday, it was reported that Google is working on a new VR headset that's far more advanced than Cardboard and closer to Samsung's Gear VR. But Google's upcoming virtual reality plans are in fact even bigger than that, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company is said to be working on a stand-alone VR product — one that wouldn't need to be tethered to a smartphone or PC to function.

The unannounced device "will include a screen, high-powered processors and outward-facing cameras" according to the Journal's sources. It is being designed to provide a "middle ground" experience; so while it may not be as powerful or capable as the Oculus or HTC Vive, it'll offer the convenience of untethered operation.

This standalone headset would come in addition to Google's rumored Gear VR competitor, a headset that uses a smartphone for VR experiences which will reportedly be introduced alongside a new version of Android. The WSJ said the company's other headset would be a more advanced version of its $20 Cardboard viewer, while the Financial Times described it as a Nexus-style VR headset which will be a reference point for other manufacturers as they move to embrace Android's deeper focus on virtual reality. Both publications have suggested this product will debut at I/O 2016 later this year.

The stand-alone device has a less certain release timeframe; one Journal source said it could arrive this year, with another cautioning it remains early in development and could be scrapped entirely. Movidius, a startup based in San Mateo, California, is rumored to be supplying technology that will help Google track a user's head movements. As it moves forward with its bolder VR plans, Google faces a wave of competition from Oculus, Samsung, Sony, and HTC. Each company will have a virtual reality product on store shelves this year. We've reached out to Google for comment.

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