Google Launches Daydream - A platform for high quality mobile virtual reality
Google Daydream could finally make mobile VR feel like more than a compromise and low end experience. For Clay Bavor, a longtime Googler who became the company’s first head of virtual reality this year, Cardboard was also a Trojan horse — a low-stakes project that could one day evolve into something bigger.
“We knew that Cardboard would only go so far,” says Bavor. “Because there's only so much you can do in terms of immersiveness and interactivity with — let's be serious — a piece of cardboard, and a phone that was really only meant to be a phone.”
Cardboard’s accessibility and price made it popular, but they’ve also heavily limited the quality and length of experiences. After two years, Google wants a mobile VR platform that doesn’t just introduce people to virtual reality but makes them want to stay there.
That platform is called Daydream, an Android-based virtual reality initiative announced yesterday at I/O. Unlike Cardboard, Daydream’s apps will run only on new phones that have been certified by Google, a process that requires various VR-friendly components — like high-quality sensors for head tracking or screens that can reduce blurring by showing images in extremely short bursts.
Partners will sell what Google promises will be incredibly comfortable, ergonomic Daydream headsets — designed with the help of unnamed clothing and accessory companies — alongside a small motion controller. And a new "VR Mode" in Android N includes Daydream-ready versions of several of its apps, including the Play Store and YouTube, giving you more to do without having to ever take the headset off.
Daydream’s remote control, which must ship with any headset, is also fairly simple. A white oblong that Bavor says feels "kind of like a pebble," its built-in sensors let it detect rotation and (to a more limited extent) movement, allowing users to navigate the interface by using it as a laser pointer. "One of the first things we learn how to do as kids is point, right?" says Bavor. "And analog input — as opposed to buttons for doing things, buttons for aiming — it's something that everyone gets."
Find out more about Google's Daydream platform here and sign up for updates. Launches Fall 2016.