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Google I/O: Daydream Brings VR To Next-Gen Smartphones

H.B. Duran|

Google Daydream is a new virtual reality platform heading to next-gen smartphones this fall. Unveiled during the Google I/O keynote yesterday, Daydream will incorporate a headset and small handheld controller, combining the immersive experience of mobile VR with intuitive motion controls.

While Cardboard viewers allow consumers to use just about any smartphone they like, upgrading to Daydream will require new phones with specialized parts and operating systems. Utilizing the upcoming Android N platform (which you can help name here), these Daydream-ready phones will be outfitted with screens and sensors powerful enough to deliver VR in high-quality. Google has partnered with developers like ARM, Qualcomm, MediaTek and Imagination Technologies to create these components, and Daydream-ready phones are scheduled to begin rolling out this fall from HTC, ZTE, Huawei, Asus, Xiaomi, Alcatel, LG and Samsung.

Google Daydream Headset aims to be "comfortable and intuitive," says Google.
Google Daydream Headset aims to be “comfortable and intuitive,” says Google.

Aside from a basic design, not much is publicly known about the Google Daydream headset as far as specs and price points go. Google provided the initial designs to its partners, who will then manufacture and refine it, thereby determining its price. But for perspective, Google Cardboard costs around five dollars and the Samsung Gear VR costs $99, so there’s a lot of room for speculation on how much the Google Daydream unit and controller with set you back.

Brands like HBO, Ubisoft and Electronic Arts (EA) have been confirmed as development partners and The New York Times will use this new platform to provide VR news coverage and content, as announced during NewFronts.

Video games will be a dominant presence on Daydream, with additional partners including Climax Studios, Otherside Entertainment and NetEase. Epic Games hosted a livestream during the Google I/O today and discussing the possibilities of development with Unreal Engine 4. It also posted a video on YouTube, demonstrating in-game possibilities, as well as some nice close-up views of the Daydream controller.

“At Epic, we’re really excited about Daydream because while everyone has a phone, this really takes VR to the masses,” says Epic Games VP and co-founder, Mark Rein. “It gives you the ability to have the same kind of experience you would have on really high-end VR systems, but now completely immersive and with this beautiful controller.”

 

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