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Google leans into virtual reality by naming new Clay Bavor new VP

Google has appointed Clay Bavor as its inaugural head of VR. Bavor was previously responsible for consumer web services including Gmail and Google Docs, responsibilities which are now being transferred to former VMWare CEO Diane Greene, who joined the company in November of 2015.

As well as his work on Google’s fleet of web apps, recent years have seen Bavor contribute extensively to the Cardboard project. The low-cost VR solution is nowhere near the level of sophistication that something like the Oculus Rift, but it’s proven to be a potent method of distributing the tech to a broad audience.

However, it seems quite clear that Bavor will be exploring more avenues than just Google Cardboard in his new role. It’s likely that the company’s new VP of VR will be looking to amp up Google’s interests in this burgeoning field — and its sizeable investment in Magic Leap could prove to be key, according to a report from ReCode.

Related: Google sees fewer hiccups in autonomous car tests, but driver intervention still needed

In 2014, Google led a round of funding for Magic Leap, amid a host of praise for the start-up’s tech from Silicon Valley companies as well as Hollywood studios. Based on recent footage, it’s thought that Magic Leap is developing an augmented reality device more in line with Microsoft HoloLens than other VR headsets.

While Google Glass failed to make much of an impact on consumers, the company isn’t ditching the project completely — leaked photos from late 2015 gave us a glimpse of the business-centric 2.0 edition of the hardware. We’ll see how the project’s successes and failures inform Google’s broader VR ambitions.

It’s certainly clear that companies need to establish their VR interests now, before the market becomes completely saturated. With the likes of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR all launching in the coming months, the field of play will look quite different when 2016 comes to an end.