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Self-contained VR headset competes with the big names, no smart phone required

It’s been some time since virtual reality started to gain attention as the technology of the future, but VR rigs in living rooms haven’t become commonplace yet. You’ve heard of Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, and all the rest, but most people haven’t made the jump to virtual reality in everyday life. Simplifying VR’s hardware needs is an important part of bringing it to the masses — and AuraVisor is doing just that.

At first glance, the AuraVisor headset may look like other VR options already popular on the market. But unlike existing headsets, it’s completely self-contained — so you don’t need to be tethered to a PC, gaming console, or smartphone to use it. Powered by an Android-based computer, the headset’s 5-inch display runs 1080p per eye with a 100-degree field of view. The 1.8GHz quad-core Rockchip RK3288 processor is more common in tablets and notebook computers, but since it’s equipped with high resolution/UHD video decoders and Mali graphics capabilities, it could very well be enough to power a proper VR experience.

Existing virtual reality options require either a gaming console, PC connection, or smartphone held within the headset. Considering the ubiquity of smartphones, it’s not difficult to think that dropping one into a VR headset would be an easy way to make the switch. That said,  the quick and dirty visuals they produce are a pressing concern for VR purists, on top of the issues with PC- or platform-connected VR experiences. Tethering a virtual reality headset kills off some of the basic believability of a visual experience that’s intended to be “virtually real,” so AuraVisor’s cord-cutting approach means a totally hands-free, unlimited movement experience.

AuraVisor will eliminate all of these issues with its one product, if the company gets it right. As to the visuals, products like Google Cardboard and the Samsung Gear VR headset have gotten plenty of flak for being a low-quality VR version with smartphone visuals that don’t quite measure up to that “virtually real” experience. That’s where it’s up to AuraVisor to get things right; the fully self-contained VR experience of the AuraVisor will need to combine the transformative visuals from connected VR options with the freedom of mobility enjoyed by its smartphone-toting predecessors.

Powerhouse functionality will need to be another top priority to ensure the success of AuraVisor. The headset does come with an optional HDMI input if you’re already hooked on VR content not produced explicitly for AuraVisor, but the company is working on a slate of bespoke native content that they hope will be enough to keep users in the headsets without hooking up to any other providers. AuraVisor also promises it will be able to run any VR app from the Google Play store directly in the headset, no smart phone required.

In just over two days since the AuraVisor Kickstarter campaign launched, they’re already dancing dangerously close to their full funding goal of £100,000, which works out to about $153,000. Backers can score an AuraVisor headset of their own for a pledge of about $202, while the retail price once AuraVisor makes it to the market is expected to jump to $450. If all goes as planned, the creators hope to begin shipping sometime around May 2016.