Exploring Virtual Reality with Google's Daydream VR

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Exploring Virtual Reality with Google's Daydream VR

Google is demonstrating the potential of virtual-reality technology with Daydream VR, a development platform for application developers and mobile hardware makers.

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Understanding Google’s Motivation

The virtual-reality market is growing in both adoption and revenue. By building a platform of its own, Google is hoping it can capitalize on virtual reality first, as other companies may conclude they don’t need to build their own platforms and instead use Deaydream to capitalize on virtual reality in their own way. If Daydream takes off, Google could be well-positioned in the virtual reality market.

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A Headset Is Available

To support Daydream content, Google sells a headset called Daydream View, which users simply attach to their compatible handset. Daydream View also comes with a controller that gives users another way to interact with the virtual world.

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Get the Right Phone

Daydream doesn’t work on any Android-based smartphone; the platform requires an Android Nougat-based device with high-resolution displays and enough graphics power to accommodate virtual reality. Currently, only the Google Pixel and Moto Z support Daydream content.

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It’s Virtual Reality First

Augmented reality, a technology that places virtual elements in the real world, also is growing in popularity. Apple, Microsoft and others are investing in augmented reality, but Daydream solely supports virtual reality. Whether Google plans to support augmented reality in future versions is unknown.

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The Price Is Right

Standalone virtual reality devices can cost hundreds of dollars, but Daydream’s price isn’t close. The Daydream View headset costs $49. But keep in mind you need a compatible smartphone to work with the headset, which comes free with the purchase of certain handsets. Downloading the Daydream platform is free, and many of the apps—or “Experiences”—are available at no charge.

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Daydreams Presents VR ‘Experiences’

Daydream delivers its virtual reality through apps known as Experiences, developed by Google and third-party providers. As of this writing, apps including Google Street View and Google Photos are available, as well as Ocean Rift to explore the seas and Hello Mars to see the Red Planet. “Personal cinema” apps from YouTube and Hulu also are available.

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This Is Not an Oculus Competitor

To be clear, Google Daydream is a mobile virtual-reality platform designed for users to play content from Android-based devices. Daydream is not a standalone virtual reality device that can compete with the likes of Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Daydream is about delivering a virtual-reality ecosystem, not being a high-end virtual-reality gaming device.

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Try Out the VR Demonstrations

Those who are curious about Daydream are able to try it out at “thousands of locations” across the country, Google says, where users can demo an app called “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

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What to Expect From Software Developers

Google has said it plans to expand dramatically the number of Experiences available on Daydream. Google has made its software development kit available to developers who, at least so far, are working on new apps.

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What to Expect From Hardware Makers

Google confirmed that Daydream support will be coming to the Huawei Mate 9 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR in the coming weeks. And, later this month at Mobile World Congress, several device makers are expected to unveil high-end Android smartphones that will support Daydream.

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