Google had a different view on VR from the beginning. While competitors strived for the best experience with the best technology, Google did the opposite and made VR possible from a piece of cardboard and your mobile phone. Two years later and with the help of companies like Bend, well over 5 million cardboard VR viewers have made their way into the homes of people around the world.
Here at Bend, we care about giving as many people as we can VR experiences, and so do Google. VR needs to be accessible, affordable and approachable, and their new platform ‘Daydream’ is exactly that.
The release by the tech giant is aimed towards making virtual reality feel normal.
Daydream is an extension of your Android phone’s existing interface, coupled with headsets that are supposed to feel as comfortable as a pair of nice running shoes. Google aims to bridge the gap from high end and ‘techy’ technology and improve the overall experience of virtual reality, from content to comfort.
Daydream View, is roughly comparable to Samsung’s Gear VR. Both are goggles that turn phones into virtual reality headsets, combined with a custom controller. Daydream View, though, aims to be the anti-Gear VR. Where Samsung made a hard plastic shell, Google made a squishy foam mask. Where Samsung built a trackpad directly into the Gear VR’s temple, Google put Daydream’s controls in a separate remote with limited motion tracking. The bulk of the headset is covered in soft fabric, with a choice of three colors: "slate," "snow," and "crimson." Its sides are firm but bendable, and a front panel folds out to reveal a plastic interior. On the other side of its lenses, there’s a microfiber face mask that’s attached with velcro, so it can be removed and hand-washed.
But what’s really interesting is the way that the technology feels down-to-earth which is only possible because of small, invisible bits of tech. When a user opens the front panel and puts their phone down, for example, an embedded NFC chip will tell it to automatically switch to Android’s Daydream interface. All that’s left to do is close the View back up, stretching an elastic loop over a plastic nub on the top.
Daydream will ultimately be judged by the experiences it can give. But the easier and more pleasant it is to use, and the lower the barrier to getting into those experiences, the easier it is to make them feel worth people’s time. That’s what Daydream View is all about — and so far, it seems to be doing its job.
And what does this mean for Google cardboard and similar products? Daydream is definitely an extension of the principles that cardboard stood for, but with a refined edge that lets it compete with other mid range headsets. But Bend thinks cardboard and custom cardboard will still play a massive part in the growth of VR; companies can’t and won’t say no to such a cheap alternative for big campaigns, and there may still be no better way to show your content to the masses. We’re stoked about Daydream because we know it’s going to support our mission - bringing VR experiences to as many people as we can.