Google’s virtual reality ambitions are not just limited to cardboard but stretch far beyond. On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that the web giant plans to release a new virtual reality headset later this year.
Google moving beyond Cardboard
According to the FT, this will be a smartphone-based headset and will be a successor to the Cardboard VR viewer that was released in 2014. It will sport improved sensors and lenses housed in a solid plastic casing. As of now, there have been no comments from Google about the report, but CEO Sundar Pichai signaled the company’s continued interest in VR while speaking on the earnings call last week.
During the conference call, Pichai said, “It’s still incredible early innings for virtual reality as a platform and Cardboard is just a first step, but we are excited by the progress we have seen.”
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Pichai added that the company’s partners have shipped over 5 million Google Cardboard viewers, and it recently teamed up with The New York Times on a virtual reality experience in which the company provided Cardboard to over 1 million Time subscribers.
VR: the next big thing
Virtual reality is a field that promises a 3D world experience, and the number of tech companies interested in the area is growing at a fast pace. Fans have been awaiting Facebook’s Oculus Rift for a long time, and the company is on the verge of releasing it, while other tech companies such as Sony, Samsung and HTC too have made huge investments in the technology.
Microsoft’s HoloLens goes one step further as it adds 3D computer-generated scenes to people’s view of the real world. Apple reportedly has assembled a secret research group that focuses on virtual and augmented reality. Samsung developed the Gear VR headset in partnership with Facebook and released it last year for $99 (£80 in the UK or AU$159 in Australia). This price did not include a phone. How well it sold is something that Samsung hasn’t revealed.
It is believed that the technology can make substantial changes to the way people use computers and how they communicate with one another. It is expected that other major devices — HTC’s Vive and Sony PlayStation VR — will all be released sometime this year and that their prices will start at $599 (£499 or AU$649).