Google handed out the first Cardboard viewers at I/O a few years ago, and at the time it seemed like a bit of a joke. It wasn't really a joke for long, though. VR has been growing in recent years, and the low barrier to entry made Cardboard a hit. Now, sources report that Google is looking to release a standalone VR headset that doesn't require a phone to function.
Google's alleged new VR project would compete more directly with Facebook's Oculus, though it will probably cost much less than $600. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google's upcoming VR headset is being designed as a middle ground experience that won't require a high-end gaming PC (Oculus), nor a smartphone (Gear VR and Cardboard). It will include its own screen, processor, and cameras.
There's some speculation that Google could unveil this device at Google I/O in May. It may also be running a new version of Android with special features for VR. Some previous rumors pointed to enhanced VR in Android N, so maybe this mysterious headset will be a launch device for the next major Android update. The Financial Times also recently reported that Google is working on an updated Cardboard viewer that still requires a phone, but will have more features to compete with the Gear VR.