Google Android VR tipped to take on Oculus, Samsung Gear VR

JC Torres - Feb 7, 2016
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Google Android VR tipped to take on Oculus, Samsung Gear VR

Google already has one foot in the virtual reality train but Cardboard is more like a tentative, hobbyist contraption more than a serious, longer lasting consumer product. Well, that is about to change, according to the usual people familiar with the matter. Google is allegedly working on a new virtual headset along with an accompanying "Android VR" platform, that will also use smartphones as the display and processing power. In other words, it will be a direct jab at Samsung's Gear VR, jointly made with Oculus, now part of Google's rival Facebook.

The Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR introduced a new way of providing virtual reality headsets. Instead of the standalone headsets made by the likes of Oculus itself, HTC and Valve, and Sony are making, Cardboard makes use of an Android smartphone to provide the display and processing power for the VR experience. The headsets themselves have the lenses that produce the stereoscopic effect to truly make it look like virtual reality.

The Gear VR, however, has a few key advantages. One is that it also has its own sensors (Accelerator, Gyrometer, Geomagnetic, Proximity) independent of the smartphone inside. But more importantly, the Gear VR has been intended for commercial launch right from the get go, making it look more polished and more user-friendly. Cardboard, on the other hand, started literally with a cardboard blueprint that anyone can assemble. provided they he the other necessary components like lenses. Google did provide the design for free, which other manufacturers, like OnePlus, for example, have taken to produce their own Cardboard-based accessories.

Cardboard is also more inclusive, compared to the Gear VR's unsurprising exclusivity to Samsung's own high end flagships. That could very well be a key selling point for this Android VR headset should the time come for it to compete with the Gear VR and even other more conventional VR headsets.

That said, Google still has a lot of work ahead, especially in the software department. One of the problems with VR is the latency between a user's head movement and the corresponding reaction in virtual reality space. To shorten that gap, Google will supposedly be building VR capabilities right into Android itself, hence the Android VR name.

As to when Google will reveal this new Android VR headset and platform, provided it's actually an accurate tip, that's still unknown. But if Google is going to tie it into the Nexus line of smartphones, chances are it would happen in May during Google's I/O 2016 developer conference.

SOURCE: Financial Times