On May 18th during Google I/O Keynote 2016, Vice President of VR Clay Bavor announced Google’s next step forward in virtual reality: Daydream.
Google is no stranger to virtual reality technology. In February of 2015, Google released Google Cardboard, an open source virtual reality headset. According to Clay Bavor, over 50 million Google Cardboard applications have been downloaded, with thousands of developers taking advantage of the technology.
Moving forward from Google Cardboard, Bavor introduced Daydream, Google’s virtual reality platform for Android. According to Bavor, when developing the platform, the Google VR team believed it should be “Mobile, Approachable, For Everyone”. To make this happen, the smartphone, VR Mode, and the headset/controller were considered.
Smartphones would have to be, as Bavor described, “Daydream-ready”. Android N will have what is called VR Mode, which will enable smartphones to run Daydream. Companies like Samsung and HTC have already began developing phones capable of running VR Mode and support the Daydream platform.
VR Mode is where users will be able to access and utilize the platform. When developing VR Mode, performance was one of the key factors addressed. Bavor stated that Daydream has impressively low latency – under 20 milliseconds. This means that there will only be 20 milliseconds of lag when one moves their head and the UI displays whatever is is meant to be seen. To use this UI, the Google VR team created a headset and controller.
The headset was designed to be comfortable and easy to take on and off. The Daydream headset is designed similarly to that of a pair of goggles. The controller that would come with the headset has two simple buttons and a touch-pad for navigation through the VR interface. Applications will be able to be accessed through the user interface.
Users will be able to browse through applications strictly for VR through Daydream, as well as non-VR applications. One VR application by Google that will be available is Playground. Playground features various activities in virtual reality such as fishing, casting spells with a wand, and engaging with mythical creatures. Streaming services Netflix and Hulu will have VR applications in Daydream. Youtube was completely rebuilt for Android N for Daydream users to experience videos in virtual reality. Gaming companies EA and Ubisoft are also developing games that incorporate VR.
A preview of Daydream is already available to developers. It is expected to launch this fall, along with its accompanied headset and controller. Smartphones capable of running the platform on Android N will also be available this upcoming fall of 2016.