After many rumors and an unclear message at the Google I/O keynote address, Clay Bavor, vice president of virtual reality at Google, confirmed that the company is in fact making its own headset.
Google has a history of partnering with other manufacturers to make its hardware, especially its line of Nexus phones and tablets. So when the company announced Wednesday during its I/O Developer’s Conference Keynote that it would be partnering with others to build a headset and remote control, this seemed in line with its former strategies.
However, this morning the company clarified during an event titled “VR at Google” that it will in fact make its own hardware, both a headset and a remote.
During the event a demo video was shown with Epic Games using the Unreal engine to play a VR game in which users can shoot magic spells at spiders in a fantasy dungeon world. The game looked fun and it showed a woman playing with the new controller and a black headset we haven’t seen before.
It’s unclear if that headset was made by Google itself or another manufacturer, but it’s certainly derived from the design specs released at the keynote. A flap in the front encloses a Nexus 6P, but it appears to be more exposed than other headsets which completely block outside light.
The headsets use an over-the-head strap to secure the device to the head, much like Samsung’s Gear VR device. It’s more of an immersion experience than Google Cardboard but less advanced than top-of-the-line devices from Facebook’s Oculus and HTC’s Vive.
Google further signaled it thinks mobile is the future by taking a couple of jabs at the PC-run devices from Facebook and HTC.
“VR is going to be driven by mobile,” John Riccitiello, CEO of the technologies company Unity and former head of Electronic Arts, said during an announcement that his company would be partnering with Google. “We envision a world in which literally billions of people have access to VR. And the fact that there are nearly twice as many people with mobile devices as PCs makes it obvious — it’s just math.”
It looks like the virtual reality content will be delivered on a new Google platform and store called Daydream.
“But of course the smart phones, the operating systems, the headsets the controllers, it’s not what VR is about,” said Bavor. “VR is about the stuff you can do, the experiences; and we hope you’re going to create many of those.”
Bavor also alluded to the rumors that Google’s Project Tango, a subsidiary developing technology that will allow devices to better understand their space in a room, will be integrated into the system.
He said the Daydream team and the folks working on Tango share an office space. “I’ll let you extrapolate from there,” he said.