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Microsoft Announces new Camera-Free VR Headsets for Windows 10

New affordable headsets to launch next year. Could this be the precursor to Xbox VR?

During the October Microsoft Windows 10 Event, a new range of virtual reality headsets were unveiled for PCs.

Pictured above, the headsets were made in partnership with "top PC makers" and will be available sometime in 2017, with prices starting at $299. Some of these partners are cited to include HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer.

These headsets are touted as being camera-free, featuring "inside-out tracking sensors" that remove the need for external cameras. They are still wired to the PC, however.

The headsets are not to be mixed up with the existing Microsoft HoloLens, which features augmented reality instead: projecting images onto the real world, rather than displaying a fully self-contained virtual environment. In addition, despite Microsoft working with Oculus Rift in the past, they were completely absent from this event and are presumably not a partner for these devices.

In addition to the headsets, the Microsoft event was largely focused on transitioning the digital world into 3D through a combination of the HoloLens, a new Microsoft Surface, and VR technology. A video of the entire event is available, but be warned that it is two hours long and covers many different subjects.

The HoloLens provides a different approach to the concept of VR that is largely unrelated to games, but is nonetheless fascinating to watch develop. Being able to project digital holograms onto a transparent view of the real world has all sorts of potential applications. You can learn more about the HoloLens on the official site.

With the aim of these VR headsets to be affordability and ease of use, will we see a variation of the new devices coming to the Xbox One? The console already runs a variant of the core Windows 10 OS, and while the functionality is not identical, it might not be a stretch to imagine such a move happening in the future to compete with PlayStation VR.

At the moment, information on the devices is limited, so we'll keep you informed when we learn more.

Published Oct. 27th 2016

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