In what’s become the Google I/O defining moment, the company kicked off the 2012 event with a series of skydivers, bikers, and climbers to debut the hot newness that was Project Glass (hindsight, etc.). Two years later, Google went all Oprah on everyone and sent I/O attendees home with Cardboard headsets of their very own – this was, mind you, back in the days before the system came free with the daily newspaper.
Those two projects have, obviously, been met with differing levels of success, but one thing is for certain: Google is really committed to changing our perceptions by way of attaching screens to our faces.
As anticipated, this year’s event marks the software giant’s next big step into that world with another push into VR hardware. Along with a platform called “Daydream” and a VR mode for the newly unveiled Android N, the company show off the headset we’ve been hearing so much about of late — or at least a basic reference design for third-party developers, debuting a sketch of a headset and a controller for third hardware developers.
There’s not much in the way of info at the moment, but the company announced that there are “several” devices currently in the pipeline, with the first units arriving in the fall. According to Google, the specs detail things like optics and comfort — all of the sorts of bits one would anticipate. The company also expects the new hardware to improve the Google VR experience beyond the entry-level Cardboard, making it possible to experience the system for longer periods.
As for the controller, it’s an extremely simple ovular design featuring a few buttons and a clickable, swipable touchpad. Inside is an orientation sensor, allowing for more immersive movement control, the proverbial “magic” that Google talked up on stage. The company also discussed the device’s flexibility and added that the third-party developers it’s shown it to thus far “absolutely love it.”
There’s unfortunately not a heck of a lot more to share about the hardware at the moment, but Google was more than happy to talk up some of those VR partners. Among other things, the company will be offering up a Daydream version of Google Play, so existing VR apps from places like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and CNN will join the fray seamlessly.
Hulu, Netflix, HBO and IMAX are also on board as content partners, along with top-tier game studios like Ubisoft and EA. Along with the headset, Google is also outlining a list of specs that make smartphones “Daydream-Ready,” meaning they have sufficient processing, sensor and display specs to run the company’s new VR platform.