Intel is discontinuing plans to release a reference version of its Project Alloy “merged reality” headset. Road to VR reported the news today, saying that Intel made its decision over the summer based on a lack of interest from partners. In a statement, Intel said it had chosen to “wind down its Project Alloy reference design,” but would continue to invest in augmented and virtual reality technology, including RealSense depth sensing and WiGig-based wireless headset systems. Previously, it said that it would “productize” Alloy with partners by the end of 2017.
Road to VR speculates that Intel and partners may have had trouble making Alloy small and long-lasting enough to work as a viable self-contained VR headset. It also notes that manufacturers may have decided to focus on Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets at the expense of Intel’s design. Despite the similarity between the names “mixed reality” and “merged reality,” current Windows Mixed Reality headsets are actually much simpler than Alloy. They’re wired virtual reality headsets with inside-out tracking capabilities, compared to an all-in-one design that could scan real-world objects and mix them with virtual environments.
It’s never really been clear how people would use Alloy, or what the final system would look like. When we last tried it at CES, it was promising but clunky, with inside-out tracking that was less smooth than Microsoft’s current Mixed Reality headsets. “Project Alloy served as a great proof of concept for Intel and the industry — showing what’s possible in a high-performance, immersive and untethered VR experience,” Intel says. “What we’ve learned through Project Alloy will inform future efforts.” Intel has a lot to contribute to the worlds of computer vision, visual processing, and other areas of VR and AR. But with so many companies working on individual headset designs, putting a full system out the door may simply not have made sense.