Daydream Or Reality?
The VR battle has begun in earnest between the tech world’s biggest companies with Google’s introduction of Daydream
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Virtual reality hasn’t even properly hit the masses yet and there’s already a battle on for dominance in the technology.
On one side you have Facebook, which is working intensively to integrate VR into its platform. It even bought a company called Two Big Ears to pull in VR quality sound or ‘spatial sound’ or 3D sound, which will fit right in with 360-degree videos as well. Facebook, in any case, also owns Oculus, a leading VR company.
Facebook is trying to attract content creation so that users stay on its platform because of the immersive and addictive experiences. The social network wants to be the default hub for virtual reality.
In the initial experiences with VR, audio has lagged behind while developers work on the visual content. With some products you actually need to wear headphones in addition to the clunky headset to get the audio to match up even a little. But it has to move on to becoming inseparable from the visual aspect, and it has to come from all dimensions — when you turn your head, the sound must match what you see. Facebook wants to make the VR experience so compelling that advertisers too won’t hesitate to jump right in.
On the other side of the fence, Google just introduced Google Daydream, its own design and plan for virtual reality. Their mandate is to get VR to the masses as easily and affordably as possible. So they’re going to bake it into Android.
Clay Bavor, who heads the VR initiative for Google emphasised that VR should be “mobile, approachable, and for everyone”. Google did bring VR to all with its Google Cardboard, but that’s just a taste of what will be the whole experience as it’s been visualised.
It will start happening with Android N based phones that must have specified hardware specs and be “Daydream ready”. Google will first make reference phones and then companies like Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei, Alcatel, ZTE, Xiaomi and Asus will do so. ZTE has already jumped the gun and said that its new Axon 7 phone will support Android’s Daydream, though at this point, that’s unknown. Current phones won’t support it but no doubt Daydream-ready will be the flavour of the month for phones soon enough.
Though it isn’t just about phones and headsets. An entire ecosystem will be needed, most of all, of rich, compelling content which isn’t limited to entertainment but extends to services and education as well.
What will differentiate the Daydream experience is difficult to say right now, but from the looks of it, it will focus on “Presence,” a dimension that is being reached by Oculus as well. It involves how latency can be reduced as one moves one’s head inside the VR zone, making rendering visual material faster with less “smearing” in the 360-degree field, and bringing in high-quality correction and calibration. This will make everything seem very much more real and make one less prone to motion sickness.
While there’s so much action to ready this new computing platform, there are voices that claim virtual reality is going to come crashing down and that it’s just a bubble that’s about to burst. The content so far is so demo-like that it’ll be a long time before VR is useful.