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Intel Abandons Project Alloy VR as it Canceled Its Mobile Processors

Intel’s Craig Raymond displays the Project Alloy virtual reality headset during the Day 1 keynote at the 2016 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote presentation offered perspective on the unique role Intel will play as the boundaries of computing continue to expand. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Over the past three months, Intel abandoned or canceled a large number of projects which were hailed as the “future of Intel”. By canceling its low-power mobile processors and shifting away from competing with ARM, projects are getting abandoned ‘en masse’. Last in the list of cuts were plans to create a virtual reality headset. According to a report, this semiconductor giant has shut down Project Alloy virtual reality headset initiative, in which third-party companies were to build VR headsets based on Intel’s hardware blueprints.

As stated: “Intel has made the decision to wind down its Project Alloy reference design, however we will continue to invest in the development of technologies to power next-generation AR/VR experiences. This includes: Movidius for visual processing, Intel® RealSense™ depth sensing and six degrees of freedom (6DoF) solutions, and other enabling technologies including Intel® WiGig, Thunderbolt™, and Intel® Optane™. All of these Intel technology solutions are supported by a robust portfolio of software capabilities, and we’re building out a VR support ecosystem, from software design kits to reference designs, to spur innovation that’s enabling rich and immersive content. 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. What we’ve learned through Project Alloy will inform future efforts.”

Just a year ago, at what turned out to be the last Intel Developers Forum, the computer chip maker showed off a Project Alloy VR headset prototype. Project Allot was touted as a standalone VR headset which was essentially a head-mounted Windows PC, prompting some speculation that the end price of the product would be extremely high.

The firm committed significant resources to AR / VR research and development in recent years but still had the urge to come up with its own head-mounted display. Current industry leaders HTC and Facebook’s Oculus have both collaborated with Intel on the development of their VR offerings, with more tech giants then being expected to join the company’s support ecosystem going forward. In March, the company snapped up Replay Technologies, which is known for creating 360-degree video replays for the NBA. However, by canceling the low-power mobile processor that supposed to power Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 (which also got cancelled), Intel doomed its own project.

Beside the lack of appropriate silicon, the reason may be into the fact that the manufacturers, including Acer, ASUS and Dell – chose to focus their resources on building Microsoft Mixed Reality headsets. These headsets should also be cheaper although a little bit less powerful than top-of-the line VR headsets sold by HTC and Facebook’s Oculus Rift business unit.