Googles Daydream View VR headset is smartphone

Google logoWe're live from Google's product launch extravaganza, and the latest item to be announced is the "Daydream View" VR headset and wand controller. This is Google's hardware entry in the "Daydream" Android VR standard, which combines core Android OS changes, standardized smartphone specs, and standardized viewer designs to create a Gear VR-style ecosystem for any Android phone. Daydream View is the next step for Google Cardboard, and it will launch as a headset-and-controller combo in November for $79.

Like Google Cardboard and the Gear VR, the Daydream View is an empty VR headset that requires a smartphone to work. A phone slots into the Daydream View while the phone's display and computing hardware drive a VR experience.

Unlike the Gear VR, the Daydream View is almost entirely a "dumb" headset, so there's nothing to plug in, though Google noted that Daydream View ecosystem does offer auto-alignment hardware boosts for comfort's sake. (We're not sure whether those will be driven by the Daydream View hardware or by a connected phone.) Even if that's a headset-specific boost, that's still less than how Samsung's Gear ecosystem works; the plug on the Gear VR connects the phone to additional sensors and buttons on the headset. Google apparently believes a better answer is to make the phone sensors powerful enough that they will work for VR. The control situation is handled by the bundled wand controllerwhich impressively tucks into the Daydream View headset's front panel when not in use, as shown below. (Click here for a GIF of the controller-tuck motion in action.)

Googles Daydream View VR headset is smartphone

Using a smartphone for the VR horsepower means a decent virtual reality experience can be had for a relatively low price. You'll need to pick up a brand new smartphone, but once you do, the Daydream View headset and controller is only an extra $79 cost. However, Google's VR team leader, Clay Bavor, did not specify which phones would be compatible with Daydream View, so we imagine the new Pixel phone line is the only compatible model at this point. We look forward to more updates on this front.

Googles Daydream View VR headset is smartphone

The big surprise for the Daydream headset is the material used for the enclosure. After Google used actual cardboard with Google Cardboard, we were expecting an upgrade to an all-plastic headset. But the Daydream View uses a cloth enclosure, just like the high-end Oculus Rift. The only goal of a VR headset shell is to block light and weigh as little as possible, and cloth can block out light while weighing much less than plastic. The device is basically plastic scaffolding with a big sock stretched over it. Google announced three colors for that fabric, as well: slate, red, and white. (Slate will be the only color option at launch.)

Googles Daydream View VR headset is smartphone

The one downside we see with the Daydream headset over the Samsung Gear VR is that nothing centers the phone in the headset. In VR mode, the display gets cut in half into "left" and "right" eyes, so aligning the left and right screen halves with the left and right lenses is critical. An advantage to the "universal viewer" design is that it fits any phone, but the tradeoff is that a phone can sit pretty much anywhere inside the headset. You'll need to pay close attention to alignment before you close it up.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Google, virtual reality

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