Google virtual reality upset: Cardboard Clay now VP of VR

Sergey and Larry worried Facebook will eat our lunch with Oculus Rift

Google means business in virtual reality: That’s the overwhelming message out of a VP shuffle that put Clay Bavor in charge only of VR. His other apps got given to Diane Greene.

(Yes, Clay is now VP of VR. Sometimes this stuff simply writes itself.)

But why? the crazy goldrush? Could it be, as one hilarious quote puts it, FOMO (fear of missing Oculus)? Well, certainly this Facebook-owned business could be a strategic threat to Google’s huge monopoly^H dominance.

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Is it true? Mark Mark Bergen’s words—Google Now Has an Official Virtual Reality Boss to Take On Facebook’s Oculus:

As Facebook and Microsoft have plowed ahead...Google has looked like it’s behind. But [now it] is forming its own dedicated division for virtual reality computing...according to multiple sources.

Clay Bavor, VP for product management, has run Google’s apps [but is now] dropping apps to focus squarely on virtual reality. ... The apps division is shifting to...SVP Diane Greene...the revered software vet who joined Google in November.

Many people in the industry have questioned Google’s dedication to [VR]. Facebook, conversely, has been open and assertive about its ambitions. ... (One person familiar with Google dubbed that investment “FOMO” — or “fear of missing Oculus.”)

Four hundred people at Facebook currently work on Oculus.

That’s quite some investment. Duncan Riley drives the point home—Better late then never: Google establishes dedicated virtual reality unit:

Better later than never, Google, Inc. has decided to get serious on virtual reality.

[It] comes at a time when the space is finally maturing, including the announcement by...Oculus Rift that it was finally coming to a somewhat high price of $599 per unit.

Microsoft Corp. also has a play in this space through its forthcoming augmented reality headset the if Google wants to remain competitive and not give its rivals an advantage in what is tipped to be the next big thing, it needs to be doing something. said to have confirmed the changes but declined to comment.

So tell us more about this Bavor chap. Drew Olanoff scribbles Google Focuses On Virtual Reality With New Lead For Cardboard:

Bavor has been with Google for over 10 years, so trusting this budding unit with him is a massive signal that Google is in it to win it.

Its success with Cardboard, bringing the likes of the NYT into the new medium, is paying off. [And] the focus on VR will help all of Google’s consumer products, such as YouTube, which is of course dabbling in 360-degree video.

Want more? Steven Loeb has more—Google is creating a division dedicated to virtual reality:

Bavor of the creators of Google Cardboard. 

[It] was introduced in the summer of 2014 [and] acts as a sort of do it yourself VR headset. Once it's assembled, users can put their smartphone into the headset to create 3D images.

Besides Cardboard, and participation in a $542 million round in Magic Leap...Google has now had the same drive to be a part of the way that Facebook has. ... That single investment totaled more than 82 percent of all the [VR] money raised in 2014.

So does this mean Google is developing Cardboard, or switching to Magic Leap’s technology? Someone’s Shift key is broken—sjpn:

having used cardboard and gear vr, i can't go back to cardboard.

they need to make something like gear vr for all android phones, but with their own platform since gear vr is basically oculus.

one huge advantage android can have over oculus/vive(steamvr)/playstationvr is that android phones don't tether you to a console or pc.

Update: What about VR audio? Google’s Nathan Martz discusses a new, ambisonic-style SDK, via Drew Olanoff:

We want to make building VR experiences as easy as using Cardboard.

The SDK combines the physiology of a listener’s head with the positions of virtual sound sources to determine what users hear. ... Sounds that come from the right will reach a user’s left ear with a slight delay, and with [less] high frequency elements (which are normally dampened by the skull).

[It] lets you specify the size and material of your virtual environment, both of which contribute to the quality of a given sound. So you can make a conversation in a tight spaceship sound very different than one in a large, underground...cave.

And Finally...

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[transcript available: How lessons from the past can change perception]

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