Intel has announced that that its “merged reality” project Alloy is kaput. It is an ex-project. It’s dead Jim. Alloy promised a lot of revolutionary changes to the VR and AR industry and it was only announced in August of 2016, so why was Intel’s only notable VR project killed just a year after the company went to the trouble of revealing it to the public? Before we look at the whys behind Alloy’s cancellation, a lot of people are probably wondering what Project Alloy actually is. That’s understandable since Intel didn’t even give us a chance to get to grips with Alloy before canning it completely.
In the Mix With Alloy
As you can probably tell from the big old press image at the top of the page, Alloy is an HMD. However, it represents Intel’s attempt at a ground-up attempt at creating a platform for VR and AR. Something that the company has referred to as “merged” reality. Which is also related to the codename choice, I assume.
The design of the demo unit is very reminiscent of the single headstrap approach both the PSVR and Windows Mixed Reality HMDs have taken, but the real magic is all under the hood.
For one thing, Alloy was going to be an untethered HMD. Destined to be a self-contained VR system. That sounds a lot like the standalone VR solutions we’ve heard about from Google, HTC and probably a bunch of others just around the corner.
Also included in the Intel vision is a lack of external trackers and collision detection for free movement around the real-world space you occupy. If you’ve been keeping track then that should remind you of the new Windows Mixed Reality headsets and their “inside-out tracking cameras”. Not to mentions systems such as the guardian protection system from the HTC Vive.
The free mix of real and virtual object and being able to interact with either is another feature that also exists in the Windows Mixed Reality Ecosystem.
What Intel wanted to do is establish Alloy as an open standard that other manufacturers would latch onto and create their own hardware for. So what happened?
The Microsoft Monster
In short, Windows Mixed Reality is probably the main reason we’ll never see Alloy again. With hardware makers such as Acer, Dell and HP now making WMR HMDs. In an article published by Road to VR the company admitted that they had not managed to get the sort of third-party interest they needed to make Alloy viable. On top of this, they standalone VR experience doesn’t match up to the PC-powered one that Microsoft is selling, which is why the company will now focus on wireless display technology with latencies fast enough for VR. It seems Intel will be working on various VR-supporting technologies rather than trying to build its own competing ecosystem.