Google announces support for standalone Daydream VR headsets

Google's annual Google I/O developer conference kicks off this week and ahead of the event whispers have emerged that the firm plans to unwrap a standalone VR headset.

"We asked, how can we take the best parts of smartphone VR and create a kind of device with an even better experience", Google VP for VR Clay Bavor said on stage.

Google's using what it's learned from its Daydream VR effort to build standalone headsets.

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These devices, made by companies including HTC and Lenovo and supposed to launch this year, will deliver standalone VR experiences. Luckily, new devices are joining DayDream, including the highly successful Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus through a software update this summer, and the ZenFone AR.

HTC in particular has been a pioneer in VR, having released the PC-based Vive platform, but this is its first foray into mobile VR. After almost two years of playing with Cardboard, Google revealed the next phase of its VR ambitions: The Daydream VR platform. Qualcomm designed (with Samsung's help) its Snapdragon 835 SoC for the express objective of enabling "immersive experiences" on mobile devices. Google developed Google Glass, an augmented-reality headset, then gave it up in favor of mobile phones.

As for how well it will work or how it compares to existing VR headsets, we don't yet know. The devices will also use what Bavor called "precise tracking".

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While major details about the headset are unclear, the announcement ties together a lot of Google's recent VR acquisitions and makes the company a more notable player in the VR space. "We're thrilled that headsets will begin to hit shelves later this year".

Finally, Google showed off a new AR capability for Expeditions, its geographic app for schools.

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