Intel, the company which is mostly known for creating computer processors, once again showed off their Project Alloy "merged reality" experience, this time during their CES 2017 press conference. Intel's Chief Executive Officer, Brian Krzanich, stated that they will be "productizing" this tech with their partners in the fourth quarter of 2017.
This head-mounted display at first seems very similar to a virtual reality headset in that it is entirely closed off regarding the view, but it has a few key differences. First, it is a completely untethered experience. Second, it contains an array of sensors, not unlike that of the HoloLens, which can scan the environment and reflect that information into the user's experience. Finally, as the demo showed, the experience can be a shared between multiple users.
The demo that Intel presented was set up in a staged living room. There was a wall facade with large windows, a couch, chair, table, and other furniture. At first, you can see the furniture inside the user's experience as well so as not to trip over and hurt yourself.
A magical moment happened when the players to began the game. The couch transformed into an armored bunker, then the chair converted into a shield generator. After a small amount of time, all of the furniture was turned into things that would fit on a space dock.
It was at this point that the walls fell away revealing a beautiful sky and horizon. Suddenly, a bunch of small eye-bots began to swarm the once living room, now space platform. I watched gripping the sides of my chair as the two players shot each robot, fighting for their lives.
I have to say, it was a cool demonstration, though the elevator pitch itself lacked something. Now I really hate making these remarks when I having nothing to offer, since it is just complaining at that point, but there was just something missing. Energy, tone... I don't know... I really can't put my finger on it. The tech is really cool, but I don't know if that demo is going to win over naysayers.
Of course, now that we have seen this for a second time, when can we get our hands on it? To reiterate, Krzanich ended the demonstration by making this announcement:
We're planning to productize Project Alloy by Q4 of 2017, with some of our top OEM partners.
While that may sound like they will start working with OEM partners to start building headsets, Stacy Smith, the executive vice president leading manufacturing, operations, and sales for Intel, told CNET at CES 2017 that they are already working with partners, and that the product should be out by the end of the year.
Do you think Intel's merged reality will make a mark in what is quickly become a crowded tech space? How important is being untethered to you as a user or developer?