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.


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.


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.


Bringing realism to VR is complex, but these developers found a way in holograms

Making virtual reality feel real is the hardest job of all VR developers. For Awake: Episode One, StartVR used volumetric recording, rather than motion capture, to bring its characters to life like never before.

Huawei P30 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus: 2019’s biggest flagships clash

Huawei launched the powerful P30 Pro. It's a beautiful phone with tons of power and some extremely capable cameras. But you could also describe the Galaxy S10 Plus that way — so which is better?

PlayStation’s first State of Play event includes Iron Man VR announcement

Sony held the first PlayStation State of Play video presentation on March 25 and it featured the announcement of Iron Man VR for PlayStation VR. The game is scheduled to arrive this year.
Product Review

Nintendo’s Labo VR Kit may look silly, but it really works

During our hands-on with the Nintendo Labo VR Kit, fears of a gimmicky product from Nintendo were quickly dispelled. While not a direct competitor to Oculus or HTCs own headsets, Labo VR brings a clever, new way to experience VR that makes…

Oculus shows off the Rift S, plans to phase out its original VR headset

Oculus plans to phase out its flagship Rift VR headset for its newly created Rift S. The Rift S made its debut this week at the 2019 Game Developers Conference and is expected to be released in spring 2019.

Samsung files a VR patent featuring a curved OLED display

Doubling down on its emphasis on curved displays, Samsung recently filed a design patent for a new virtual reality headset that could feature a curved OLED display, which would be an interesting development in VR.

HP’s high-resolution VR headset provides comfort and Windows Mixed Reality

HP's new VR headset reportedly offers an exceptionally high resolution, highlights comfort and runs on Windows Mixed Reality. HP hasn't officially announced the new headset, but here's a look at some of its features.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Virtual Reality

Getting into VR is spendy. Which headset is truly worth your hard-earned cash?

Virtual reality has finally gone mainstream, but how do you find the best VR headset for you? Check out a few of our favorites, whether you want the best of the best or a budget alternative for your mobile device.
Virtual Reality

HTC Vive Focus Plus makes it easier for developers to port PC content

HTC Vive has announced the Vive Focus Plus headset. The upgraded stand-alone headset makes use of "six degrees of freedom" support in controllers for a PC-like virtual reality experience.

Here’s how to watch Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 press conference

It is widely believed that Microsoft's WMC conference will be the stage for the unveiling of the next generation of its HoloLens mixed reality headset. We have the live stream right here.

Microsoft unveils $3,500 HoloLens 2 at MWC 2019. Here’s what you need to know

The HoloLens 2 is ripe for an announcement. Here's what Microsoft has revealed so far, what's likely in store for the next generation HoloLens, and everything that we know about this mixed reality headset.

Nissan designers use HaptX VR gloves to shape future cars

New car designs usually start out as clay before becoming metal, but designers are now swapping clay for pixels. Nissan is using virtual reality gloves from HaptX that give designers a tactile feel of virtual models.

Apple’s AR Glasses could pair up with your iPhone in 2020

According to an investor note sent by reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple's AR glasses will be mass manufactured starting in the fourth quarter of 2019, but not later than the second half of 2020.