Google’s Approach To Virtual Reality

by Davis Sehlke

Google has a long history of developing ambitious projects far beyond its search engine. From its Chrome browser to Android operating system, the company has continued to provide valuable software to consumers. However, it has focused recent ambitions on the development of hardware. Google’s self-driving cars and balloons-in-the-stratosphere approach to global internet have received the most press. But their October 4th event revealed more hardware that will make a much more noticeable impact on consumers’ lives than its moonshots.

Since the rollout of Google Glass, the company has developed and researched virtual and augmented reality devices. However, the introduction of Google Cardboard, a simple cardboard viewer that allows anyone to experience mobile virtual reality, showcased an approach to virtual reality distinct from its competitors. Rather than developing a high-end, expensive headset to compete directly against the likes of the Oculus and HTC, the company has a simple, mobile-first stance. Inexpensive and compelling virtual reality technology will allow Google to build up a core constituency of users. That goal is being realized with this fall’s introduction of the Daydream View, an inexpensive headset that is designed to be used with Google’s recently announced Pixel phone.

The Daydream View headset is an iteration of Google Cardboard and will serve as a direct competitor to Samsung’s Gear headset. The headset utilizes comfortable materials and an intuitive controller to allow smartphone users to immerse themselves in virtual reality. Supported by a whole host of content, from YouTube 360° videos to interactive applications and games like Tilt Brush, the Daydream platform will provide a much richer experience than a cardboard headset. Daydream View will further introduce consumers to one of the hottest emerging technologies in the marketplace.

Google’s investment in virtual reality doesn’t end at mobile. While its focus is on mobile virtual reality, the company is a leading investor in the startup unicorn, Magic Leap where Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, sits on its board. Google has also partnered with GoPro to produce Jump, a VR camera rig that comes packaged with software to produce seamless, high-resolution virtual reality videos.

As Clay Bavor, Google’s head of VR, says, virtual reality is “not just a technology, it’s not just another screen—it’s something we believe is going to be important. It’s transporting.”

The future of virtual reality looks brighter than ever as name-brand companies like Google enter this space with innovative devices and ground-breaking developments.

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