WATCH: Intel shows off the "merged reality" prototype
Thanks, Pokémon GO!
Virtual reality is an everyday miracle, and thanks to Google Glass, Microsoft's Hololens and Pokémon GO, most people today know what augmented reality is.
Now Intel wants us to get used to hearing about yet another type of digitally enhanced reality: merged reality.
How does 'merged reality' work?
Unveiled during the Intel Developer Forum last week, the Project Alloy headset merges virtual worlds with the reality around you -- hence Intel has named the type of experience it creates as "merged reality."
Unlike the fully immersive VR you get when using an Oculus Rift, the Alloy has sensors that capture the real world around the headset.
It can detect and process the wearer's hands, for instance, meaning you can simply reach out and grab stuff in merged reality -- no need to use an Xbox controller or anything.
Real hands in a virtual environment
No wires, no sensor towers
The Alloy also has a computer and all the spatial sensors it needs built in to the headset.
So unlike the HTC Vive VR headset, it doesn't have to be tethered to a powerful desktop PC to function or rely on room-mapping towers in order for the wearer to walk around in a VR scene.
Now for the buzzkill
The buzzkill part of Intel's merged reality showcase: The actual Project Alloy headset it was demonstrating is only a prototype and will never be sold in stores.
But, that doesn't mean that merged reality headsets won't be coming to shelves soon-ish; Intel is planning to open-source the tech behind Alloy so that VR hardware companies can make headsets based on its design.
So while Project Alloy seems, in concept, well ahead of Oculus, HTC and Samsung currently, by this time next year, all the major virtual reality brands could become "merged reality" brands.