Expect portable VR and AR headsets with clever position tracking tech built-in
Google is ramping up its work on virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR respectively) with its Daydream platform, having added support for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and revealed partnerships with Lenovo and HTC to build standalone headsets.
Users of the critically acclaimed Samsung Galaxy S8 will now be able to use the flagship smartphone with Google’s Daydream headset, even though Samsung has its own smartphone-powered VR wearable in the form of the Gear VR, now in its second generation.
Samsung’s Gear VR headset relies upon the Oculus app to power VR experiences on the more modern Galaxy handsets. But given that Daydream is also a developers platform, adding Galaxy S8 support gives scope for app makers building VR software for use with the Galaxy S8 to not be locked to using just the Oculus ecosystem.
At Google’s I/O 2017 developer conference, the search giant also revealed it will be working with Lenovo and HTC to produce Daydream headsets that do no require an Android smartphone to act as the VR engine for the headset.
There are precious few details on the ground about these potential standalone headsets. But we can speculate that they will not be the high-end headsets like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, which require powerful PCs to get the most out of them, as Google appears keen to get as many people into VR as possible, rather than limit it to people with access to beefy computers and deep wallets.
It is likely these headsets will contain mobile chips like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 to enable them to be powerful enough to power VR experiences but also remain light and portable.
Google also highlighted its next take on AR technology in the form of WorldSense, a positional tracking system that uses sensors in a VR/AR headset to work out a user’s position in the real world with out the reliance on external sensor beacons or cameras.
Built out of Google Project Tango AR technology for AR on smartphones, WorldSense looks to be tailoured for standalone headsets, though we would not be surised to see variations of the technology also bleed into use with smartphone-powered headsets, coutesy of the Daydream platform.
How effective WorldSense will be in building up engagment with VR and AR technology will have to be seen with what type of headsets HTC and Lenovo yield.
But while the VR tech is being worked on, Google is also pushing its work in artificial intelligence, having touted the spread of its Assistant into Apple’s iOS , as well as bolstering the smart service with a bevvy of features.
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