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Close to the Metal Ep. 8: Intel joins the VR revolution

The Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, held every year, is arguably the most important media event on Intel’s schedule. It’s used as to lay out the company’s comprehensive plans for the coming year – often, later keynotes at other conferences circle back to it.

This year, Intel led with the announcement of a new virtual reality headset. Called Project Alloy, the headset is different from most because it’s fully untethered. It ditches not only wires, but also controls, for what Intel calls “six degrees of freedom.”

Intel’s able to do so through multiple technologies, but RealSense – its 3D camera – is probably the most important. With RealSense, the Alloy headset can map out its surroundings, allowing it to track its position without external sensors. The cameras can also detect nearby objects, including the user’s hands, so it’s possible to interact with VR directly.

Related: Intel’s Project Alloy is complete wireless VR

While Alloy is cool, it’s not coming soon. Intel says it won’t be finished until the second half of 2017. Even then, it’s not clear how it’ll be priced, or if it’ll be targeted at consumers. Intel has a tendency to build concept devices that never see consumer production, or are sold only in limited numbers.

But that’s okay. Project Alloy isn’t important as a competitor to Rift or Vive. Instead, it’s important because its capabilities show what might be possible on the next generation of those headsets. We’re sure Intel would be happy to sell what’s in Alloy to others.

What does Alloy mean for the Rift and Vive version 2? And how might its underlying technologies turn into standards for the entire VR industry? We’ll talk about that, and more, on this week’s episode of Close to the Metal.

This podcast features Nick Mokey, Brad Bourque and Greg Nibler.

Close to the Metal is a podcast from Digital Trends that focuses on the geekier side of life. It tackles the topics PC enthusiasts argue over in language everyone can understand. Please subscribe, share, and send your questions to podcast@digitaltrends.com. We broadcast the show live on YouTube every Wednesday at 1pm EST/10am PST.