Google’s Daydream could be the Gear VR’s worst nightmare

google daydream gearvr nightmare gearvrheadsets
At its I/O developer conference this week, Google announced its upgrade to the budget-friendly Google Cardboard program. That’s good news for Android users, who have looked on at the Samsung Gear VR owners with envy, and bad news for anyone who invested in that ecosystem.

That’s because Google’s Daydream standard looks just as technically robust as Oculus‘ effort, and Daydream will run on a broader range of devices, giving developers reason to develop for it instead of Oculus’ proprietary storefront.

The number 20

The most important number when it comes to building a VR experience is 20. Developers often talk about reaching less than 20 milliseconds from motion to photon, or the time it takes from you moving your head to the HMD’s screen updating. Any longer, and the human eye starts to notice a lag between movement in real life and on the screen, resulting in disassociation and dizziness.

Which is why all Daydream ready phones will use some high-end hardware and special software. That means low persistence AMOLED screens, single frame buffering instead of a back buffer, and display stabilization, where after a frame is rendered, it’s shifted to meet the headset’s new location.

Google-Daydream-VR-001

These are all great features, and we know they work because they’re already found in one form or another on the Samsung Gear VR. Programming for the platform means rendering in the front buffer, and Oculus’ own Time Warp technology has much the same effect (and works the same way) as Google’s display stabilization. And Samsung’s phones fitted with low persistence AMOLED displays.

There are still some unknowns when it comes to Daydream. We’re not sure what kind of sensor will track the headset, or how many degrees of freedom it will track. The minimum display resolution is a mystery, as is the performance of the SoC that powers each device, if there isn’t more than one.

Your move, Oculus

The best move for Samsung and Oculus would be to adhere to the Daydream standard and create a new Gear VR with just that specification in mind. Samsung is clearly on board with the plan, judging by Google’s promise that the Korean manufacturer would be one of the first with a Daydream ready phone. Whether Oculus also wants to jump on board is less clear.

Google-Daydream-VR-9

At this point, Oculus has already entrenched itself in its own ecosystem. It doesn’t seem likely that ecosystem stands a chance against Daydream, a platform that will offer far broader hardware support, as well as better integration with the Android operating system.

It’d be smart for Oculus to abandon its dreams of controlling both the software and hardware experience and instead focus on just the hardware. But we don’t think it’s likely, because Facebook — which owns Oculus — wants to have that control.

Photography

Camera records real-life scenes to design virtual worlds using a single device

Creating virtual reality worlds may get a bit easier in 2019 -- the Axis is a camera module that records a 180-degree depth map, allowing designers to reconstruct the scene for virtual or augmented reality.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus photo leaks with dual front-facing camera

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.
Smart Home

Thinking of buying an Instant Pot? Here's what you need to know

The Instant Pot is a powerful kitchen appliance that does everything from pressure cook to to slow cook to steam. Heck, you can even make yogurt in it. Here's all you need to know about the magic device.
Mobile

C you soon? Rumors swirl of a USB-C port on 2019 iPhones

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Gaming

HTC brings two new headsets, a VR browser, and ‘Netflix for VR’ to CES 2019

HTC Vive made several new announcements to CES 2019, including two new headsets, a new subscription service, and a new user interface that completely transforms how applications are launched.
Product Review

HTC puts eye-tracking tech in Vive Pro Eye to make next-gen VR hands-free

With the announcement of integrated eye tracking for the Vive Pro Eye, hands-free VR, less demanding high-quality experiences, and intuitive software, are all on the table.
Gaming

The Vive Pro Eye uses Tobii eye-tracking technology to make VR more lifelike

HTC revealed the Vive Pro Eye with eye-tracking support at its CES 2019 press conference on January 7. We now know that Tobii will be the company responsible for integrating the technology.
Computing

Oculus’ Quest is the headset that will make me (and you) a VR believer

Without excessive wires or complicated setup, and a price point that makes sense for tech that just isn't there yet, Oculus' upcoming standalone headset, the Quest, could bring VR mainstream.
Gaming

Dive headfirst into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Gaming

The best VR headsets at CES 2019 could bring the technology to the mainstream

While there weren't a ton of new VR headset on display at CES 2019, the ones we saw led us to believe that VR could have a real moment soon, both from a gaming and business standpoint.
Gaming

These are the coolest virtual and augmented reality gadgets from CES 2019

CES 2019 had plenty of VR and AR gadgets on display, including headsets that completely change how you experience virtual reality, and some that don't even require a PC or a phone to run.
Gaming

These shoes let me stroll through ‘Skyrim,’ and I desperately want to go back

After being funded in just two hours on Kickstarter back in October 2018, Cybershoes has earned itself a place among the coolest VR walking and running tech. At CES 2019, we got to try them out and they live up to the hype.
Gaming

The Teslasuit could turn Black Mirror’s terrifying ‘Playtest’ into a reality

We spoke with Teslasuit co-founder Dimitri Mikhalchuk about VR gaming at CES 2019. With all its features, the future of the Teslasuit and virtual reality look bright. And it also sounds a bit like a Black Mirror episode.