LG made a non-announcement announcement concerning a new “next-gen” VR HMD it’s developing. The announcement, in full, is below:
LG Electronics will unveil its first VR HMD prototype at this year's GDC in San Francisco, CA. Being shown in Valve's GDC booth, the LG HMD prototype is designed to deliver a high fidelity, next generation VR experience.
During the show, LG will be meeting with developers to collect feedback and impressions as part of its effort to define the first commercial units. Pricing, launch dates, and territories will be announced at a later date.
Couple things: First of all, this is not LG’s first VR HMD. That honor goes to the LG 360 VR, a rather disappointing device that nevertheless offered a unique phone-connected setup. LG debuted the LG 360 VR HMD along with the LG G5 smartphone almost exactly one year ago at Mobile World Congress.
Second, the announcement offers virtually no details; all one can extract from this is that it’s VR, not AR or MR. Probably. (We don’t even have an image to include with this article.)
Pictured: NOT the new LG VR HMD
Third, although we’re going to have a chance to have an up-close and in-person look at this mystery HMD this week, we expect a rough prototype.
Why “rough?” When it comes to hardware, we see prototypes all the time, but often companies are showing us products that are mostly finished and just need a little polish before they launch to the public. We always give feedback, and sometimes companies use tradeshow time to hear what the lot of us in the tech media think, and sometimes they alter the final product a little.
In LG’s case, though, if you examine the language of the announcement, it sounds like the company is not that far along in the process. This is the telling bit: “LG will be meeting with developers to collect feedback and impressions as part of its effort to define the first commercial units.“
The “first commercial units” are not yet “defined.” That could technically mean anything, but we presume it means that LG may still be deciding on which components and features to implement. Eye tracking? External trackers for hands? Passthrough camera? And so on and so forth.
LG is hanging out in Valve’s booth at GDC, so that tells you something, and we know that it supports SteamVR.
However, again by parsing the language of the note, it appears that we’ll see the device in action. We assume the “impressions” LG is seeking will be about the demos we see, not about whether we think the mocked-up headset looks neat or not.
In other words, the LG VR HMD could be just about anything. The biggest question is whether LG is taking the Wintel VR route or if it’s throwing its lot in with the Qualcomm VR initiative. Given that LG is experienced with Android more than Windows, we would bet on the latter.
We’ll know more later this week. Stay tuned.