Earlier this week Google unveiled its most ambitious range of new hardware ever. Tucked in among new phones, routers, and Amazon Echo copies was a new VR headset called Daydream View that will work with Google’s new Daydream VR platform and supporting devices (Pixel, Pixel XL, and other new OEM android smartphones). It’s a nice step up from the Cardboard disposable headset, but disappointingly does not add sensors to aid user positioning.
As good as current mobile VR headsets, but not much better
Google’s design team has obviously gone to town on the Daydream View – replacing hard matte plastic with fabric and creating a hassle-free headset that even has a nice storage slot for the (very useful) two-button remote. The price point ($79) is also to be applauded, as this undercuts current global leader the Samsung Gear VR when that headset isn’t being bundled for free.
Add in the fact that Google is throwing its weight behind a VR platform and how good early reviews of the Pixel handset are and it positions the Daydream Viewer as the new leader in portable mobile VR headsets. It also underlines one of our key forecast predictions – that the speed of innovation in mobile VR will help these devices almost catch up with dedicated home VR platforms (e.g. the Oculus Rift).
Unfortunately, the Daydream View misses the opportunity to genuinely innovate by not adding any additional environment sensors (either in the headset or externally) to allow the kind of positional tracking (leaning, movement) that makes the VR experience on the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift such a compelling, immersive experience. Without this, portable mobile VR lacks a key part of the experience and confines these devices to VR video consumption and simple interactive experiences.