Google virtual reality -- Cardboard recycled into something you actually want

Google VR honcho Clay Bavor is saying nothing official. So stop asking him.

Google virtual reality Clay Bavor
Clay Bavor

Google working on a new virtual-reality addon, which will replace the “Cardboard” silliness, say deep-throat sources. The journalistic gobbledygook of “people familiar with its plans” popped up to leak Google’s VR future.

Fascinating, if you happen to think virtual reality is The Next Big Thing. But what if it’s just a load of hyperbolic lunacy?

Google’s as-yet-unbranded tool is said to have lenses and sensors, being made of sturdier material than Cardboard’s cardboard. We’re told to also expect VR hooks for Android app developers.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers squint and puke. Not to mention: NFL 2016: Bad Lip Reading...

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.
[Developing story: Updated 8:57 am and 1:03 pm PT with more comment]

What’s the craic? Tim “pinkun” Bradshaw broke the story—Google pushes further into virtual reality with new headset:

Google is developing a new virtual-reality headset for it challenges Facebook's Oculus.

[It’s] a successor to Cardboard. the cheap-and-cheerful mobile VR viewer that Google launched in 2014 [with] better sensors, lenses...said people familiar with its plans. ... Google is expected to release [it and] new Android VR technology, this year.

Google declined to comment...but Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, [recently said] Cardboard was “just the first step” in its VR efforts. ... “You’ll see a lot more from us and our partners in 2016.”

Rumors, reports of rumors, seems a little thin. Steven “meta” Musil talks about talking about it—Google said to be prepping new VR headset -- without the cardboard:

A successor to the Cardboard VR viewer...will sport improved sensors and lenses housed in a solid plastic casing, according to the report.

The growing interest tech companies have shown in VR...promises to transport goggle-wearing users to other 3D worlds. Facebook [with] its long-awaited Oculus Rift...Sony, Samsung and HTC are...heavily invested in [VR].

Microsoft's aimed at augmented reality. ... Apple has also reportedly assembled a secret research group.

VR is going to be huge. Duncan Riley drives the point home—Report: Google prepping new smartphone supported virtual reality headset:

The difference here is that Google’s existing Cardboard VR headset is simply (as the name suggests) a cardboard headset that a smartphone is inserted into, whereas the new device will come with additional motion sensors.

Google is also said to be looking to build virtual reality support into Android itself so that all future Android releases support it natively. ... Native VR support is said to overcome [the] latency [that] causes some users to feel nauseous.

[VR] is hyped, rightly or wrongly, as the next big thing. ... Google’s Cardboard VR headset has actually been a moderate success, having shipped 5 million units to date.

It may well be that cheaper headsets that cater to the lower end of the market make virtual reality ubiquitous.

But hang on, isn't this Google competing with their partners, such as Samsung and HTC? gregorian thinks not:

An incompatible system from HTC or Samsung is kind of doomed. The VR ecosystem will do what PC and Phones have done and settle on a couple of platforms.

You can’t expect developers spread themselves too thinly. If Google provides the base standard...they’ve a better chance of the whole thing surviving.

But then again, it’s Samsung. They want to own it all.

So Google is trying to orchestrate the market? Alex Wagner composes this ditty—Google rumored to be prepping new virtual reality headset, deeper VR support in Android:

With Samsung Gear VR, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and more, there’s a big focus on virtual reality today as several companies race to...capture a slice of the market while it’s still young.

We could...see more manufacturers take advantage of Android’s built-in VR support with their own headsets, which could then attract VR developers to Android and make Android as big a part of VR as it is to the smartphone market now.

Update 1: How did we get here? Erin Carson knows-How Google Cardboard became the flag bearer for VR, and what's next:

Goldman Sachs thinks VR will be more popular than television by 2025. ... But as Gartner analyst Brian Blau said, these are still early days...for the technology.

Google vice president of virtual reality Clay Bavor [said] there have been more than 25 million installs of Google Cardboard apps. ... Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder said, "We don't know how many people are using those devices versus those that sit in a drawer or trash can."

[But] when a product looks like something that could be built out of an old pizza box—which it can—expectations can't help but be exceeded.

This [rumored] move would put it in competition with the $99 Samsung Gear VR, which also uses a mobile phone as a display and relies on Oculus sensors. And [it would] signal in a much bigger way that Cardboard isn't just a quirky side project.

Update 2: Who saw this coming? Ron Amadeo told you so—Google to launch a Gear VR competitor:

We've said a few times now that Google's virtual reality initiative is too big for the company to just be working on...Cardboard.

The device sounds like a Google version of Samsung's Gear VR. ... The headset will be powered by your existing smartphone [but] won't be limited to just a handful of devices.

Such a device sounds like it would occupy a compelling spot in the market. ... Taking the Gear VR model and expanding it to accept most popular smartphones sounds like a solid idea. [But] an important feature...will be how it deals with securely mounting phones of various shapes and sizes.

The report says..."later this year," so there's a good chance we'll hear [more] at Google I/O.

And Finally...

NFL 2016: Bad Lip Reading part 1 part 2

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Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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