Google rapidly expanding its Daydream VR platform
Google is making a major push into virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) with numerous hardware partners announcing new devices compatible with its Daydream platform at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES2017).
Smartphones running the search giant’s Android operating system are adopting VR and AR capabilities, with the help of a headset, as the technology is poised to go mainstream after years of niche appeal.
Chinese manufacturer Huawei announced on Thursday that two of its phones will soon work with Daydream View and has developed its own headset for the platform (pictured).
The Daydream VR headset was released by Google last year and makes use of a smartphone’s screen and other sensors such as the accelerometer and cameras to provide a VR experience.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese manufacturer Asus announced that its ZenFone AR will support both Daydream and Google’s Tango software for AR, in which computer-generated content is overlaid on the real world.
While the announcements expand the line-up of participating phones, Google still has much to do to take its technology to the masses, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research, noting that Samsung, the largest Android manufacturer, has yet to sign on.
“Google’s ecosystem for both AR and VR is in the very early days,” he said.
As growth in the global smartphone market shows signs of slowing, some manufacturers are voicing optimism that AR and VR will revive consumer enthusiasm.
“This is the next wave of technology that is really going to get consumers excited about smartphones,” Erik Hermanson, Asus’s head of marketing for mobile products, said at the show.
But mainstream consumer interest in the technology remains largely unproven. Apps might be expected to stimulate demand, but until Google’s technology is available on a wider range of phones, it will be tough to persuade developers to build for the platform, analysts said.
In addition, smartphone hardware typically has limited graphical capabilities in comparison to the desktop computers used with dedicated headsets such as the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift, although the lower price of entry for smartphone-based VR systems allows it greater reach among consumers.
“We are waiting for app developers to really use the platform for what it’s for,” Amit Singh, a vice president for VR at Google, told reporters.
As well as supporting Daydream, Huawei said that it is exploring opportunities for Tango with Google. The Asus phone became the first to support both technologies.
Google has stressed that the programmes do not overlap for now, but by pursuing both, the company can position itself for success regardless of whether AR or VR becomes a mainstream hit.
“By having options for both, they can cover the full potential market,” said analyst Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research.
Earlier this week, HTC revealed a virtual reality sensor that enables users of Vive system to bring any physical object into the virtual world.