Google’s Cardboard project was considered a joke by many in the virtual reality industry. It gave people a hint of what virtual reality was like, but also hurt the virtual reality industry by being very limited and cheap. However, Google is now changing its tune with Google Daydream. The Verge has the news.
“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.”
The article adds that unlike Cardboard, Daydream’s apps will only run on new phones that have been certified by Google. In order to be certified, the phone must have various VR-friendly components such as head tracking sensors or screens that reduce blurring by showing images in very short periods of time. According to Engadget, Samsung, Alcatel, HTC and LG are just a few hardware makers that have already committed to building Daydream-compatible phones, and they could also be designing Daydream-ready headsets too.
The headsets themselves will be designed by yet-t0-be-revealed clothing and accessory companies. There will also be a motion controller. Most importantly, there will be a “VR Mode,” which includes VR versions of several apps such as Play Store and YouTube so you don’t have to take the headset off.
Some believe that Daydream could revolutionize mobile VR. After all, it will be available for many phones besides ones from just Samsung. Some even call Daydream a Gear VR killer. However, even though the Gear VR has been an excellent (if flawed) introduction to virtual reality, its main problem is that because it is mobile, it’s limited — especially in horse power. How can Daydream change that?
Another main problem has been screen resolution. Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels) looks beautiful on smartphones, but aren’t so beautiful when they are put right in front of your face. A 4K screen would certainly take care of that, but would also eat up battery power a lot faster. With the exception of virtual reality, there is no reason whatsoever for a 4K phone.
Samsung may have the right idea. They are currently working on a standalone and untethered VR headset that won’t depend on a smartphone. This is the way mobile virtual reality should work. Using a mobile headset for a VR screen was good at the beginning, but things need to move on to the next level. It’s way too early to completely judge Google’s Daydream platform, but it’s easy to predict that there will some problems.