Google’s Seurat for mobile VR means you can finally truly step into Star Wars

At Google’s I/O developer event on Thursday, the company revealed Seurat, a new tool that allows for rendering of very high resolution immersive content even on mobile VR devices that don’t necessarily have the best specs. To demonstrate Seurat’s capabilities, Google showed off a collaboration with ILMxLAB, which brings cinematic-quality renders from Star Wars to interactive mobile VR.

The video demonstration, which is embedded above, shows scenes taken right from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with incredible detail in terms of reactive lighting, textures and character animation. As the video explains, it basically makes it possible for ILM to use the same VFX it creates for films in VR, which makes for unprecedented visual fidelity for users.

Seurat basically works by letting developers set a bounded perspective region from which a viewer can move around in VR to look at a scene. Based on that constrained space, it’ll take a series of snapshots of a fully rendered 3D virtual object and then recompile a lightweight version that appears just as high fidelity as the original, from that bounded perspective set for the user to occupy earlier. This leads to a huge decrease in the amount of resources required to render a scene in high def.

Google didn’t say much more about Seurat on stage, but promised it’ll have more to share later this year on the technology and how it can be deployed. Daydream phones, and the forthcoming standalone Daydream headsets, definitely occupy the lower-power end of the VR hardware spectrum relative to PC-driven rigs, so any resource saving that also offers uncompromising visual experiences will definitely be key to the company’s vision.