Not wanting Facebook to have a monopoly on virtual reality, Google has lately been doubling down on the platform. Their new VR division is overseen by a longtime Google exec and is staffed with talent from around the company. The Financial Times is now reporting that Google is working on more than just a Gear VR-like headset, but rather Android VR.
Google’s recent moves are aimed at making sure Facebook and Oculus do not end up controlling what they consider to be a very important technology. VR head Clay Bavor recently said, “VR is too important and too powerful a medium to be accessible to only a few.”
The company’s approach to VR since announcing Cardboard in 2014 has been centered around using the already powerful smartphone. Recent rumors have pointed to Google hiring in order to build a VR headset. The FT reports that the Google headset will be compatible with a wider range of Android phones. The headset itself will be made of plastic and have better sensors and lenses.
The bigger news out of the report is that Google is working on Android VR. Specifically, they want to improve mobile VR by integrating software directly into Android. In the present, Cardboard just resides as an app, but by adding system-level integration such things as latency could be decreased. As a result, users would be able to spend more time in VR without getting sick and developers could create better experiences and apps.
Google might be adopting a Nexus-like approach to virtual reality where other OEMs would be allowed to make products with their core technology. According to the FT, the new VR software for Android might be shown off at Google I/O in May, while actual hardware would be announced sometime in September.
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