Exclusive: Google will take VR to the streets with Daydream pop-up shop in NYC

'Made by Google' pop-up event is coming to New York City

google daydream pop up events nyc handson 07
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Google is about to double down on virtual reality. Digital Trends exclusively reported that the Mountain View, California-based search giant intends to launch virtual reality-focused pop-up events in New York City and other locations around the world from October through December — presumably featuring hardware, peripherals, and software a part of its Daydream platform.

We have confirmation now, thanks to the Made By Google website. It lists a location — 96 Spring St., New York — and an October 20 kickoff date.

It’s unclear just which devices will be on hand at the pop-up event’s locations, but it’s likely we’ll see all the hardware products announced at Google’s October 4 event — Google Home, Chromecast Ultra, the Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, Google Wifi, and Daydream View.

Daydream View will likely be the highlight, and it will be a way for Google to showcase its new Android VR platform to the masses.

Google recently launched the Google VR SDK, a collection of tools that lets developers tap into Daydream-compatible hardware. At its launch event in San Francisco, Google said more than 50 partners will bring apps and games to the Daydream platform. One of which includes an exclusive partnership with Warner Bros. to bring a Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them narrative VR game.

google daydream view hands on handson 012
Daydream View. Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Video will represent an outsized slice of Daydream’s launch content, thanks to partnered providers including Netflix, Hulu, Imax, HBO Now, CNN, and YouTube. Several have inked an agreement to capture footage with a 16-camera rig optimized for Google’s Jump virtual reality platform, a technology which intelligently weaves individual camera feeds into a 360-degree panorama.

Game developers, too, will soon begin publishing Daydream experiences in earnest  — Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, MinorityVR, NetEast, are among a lengthy list of outfits which have pledged to support the platform. And Google will be furnish development of a few titles itself — Bloomberg reports that it will spend a “high six figures” on VR video games.

Google will round out Daydream’s offerings with content of its own. The search giant demoed virtual reality versions of Google Play, Google Street View, Google Play Movies, and Google Photos at its I/O developer conference. A forthcoming YouTube app, detailed in a blog post this past summer, will incorporate features such as voice search, discovery, playlists, and original content. And a VR-optimized version of the Chrome browser will ship with both VR navigational controls and support for WebVR, a Javascript API that supports VR content embedded in webpages. Google Play Movies will also begin offering 4K titles in December, ones you can watch in VR.

Daydream is in many ways the high-end alternative to Google’s debut VR effort, Google Cardboard.

Google announced Daydream at its I/O developer conference in May. It’s perhaps best described as a holistic mobile VR solution: It sports a “home screen,” Daydream Home, from which downloaded apps and content can be launched, and settings to ensure text, social media, and other notifications come through properly.

Daydream is in many ways the high-end alternative to Google’s debut VR effort, Google Cardboard: while Cardboard supports both iOS and Android devices and delivers mostly low-fidelity apps and videos, Daydream targets a decidedly enthusiast market.

That’s almost immediately apparent from Daydream’s controller, which resembles a Nintendo Wii remote. It sports a few hardware buttons, a trigger, and a touchpad, which serve as the primary means of navigation. Manipulating lists, moving about carousels, and even flipping virtual pancakes in Daydream is accomplished with flicks, swipes, and taps.

And it’s equally apparent from the high-end hardware Daydream requires. Google hasn’t publicly revealed the platform’s requirements, but a Quad HD (2,560 by 1,440 pixels) AMOLED display, Qualcomm’s high-end Snapdragon 820 processor, and 4GB of RAM appears to be the baseline. Daydream headsets aren’t any less beefy: Meanwhile, universally feature physical controls, touch-sensitive trackpads, focus wheels, and specialized sensors.

Daydream devices will compete in a field increasingly crowded by competitors.

In May of this year, Samsung sold more than 300,000 units of the Gear VR virtual reality headset. And in April, the Korean company announced that the headset had surpassed more than 1 million users.

At the IFA consumer electronics convention in Berlin this year, meanwhile, Alcatel announced the Alcatel Vision, a self-contained virtual reality headset with physical controls, a rechargeable battery, dedicated processor, and cellular connectivity. The company announced content partnerships with Magic Interactive Entertainment and audio firm Fraunhofer, and said the headset will ship with a library of over 100 VR-optimized videos and over 50 games.

Even chipmaker Qualcomm is making a play at the burgeoning space. Earlier this year, it partnered with silicon firm Intel to produce a VR headset capable of spatial tracking and gesture recognition — all without external sensors or hardware. It’s shipping to Qualcomm’s partners within the next two months.

The motivation among manufacturers is profit, primarily. Facebook famously bet big on the VR market two years ago, spending more than $2 billion on headset startup Oculus. And smartphone maker HTC, in June, announced a $10 billion VR venture capital initiative to spurt the creation of virtual reality games and apps.

More broadly speaking, the VR industry is ripe for blockbuster profits: Market research firm IDC projects that the industry will generate more than $2 billion dollars this year on shipments of 9.6 million units. By 2020, those shipments could grow to 110 million.

Article originally published in September. Updated on 10-07-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added official confirmation from Google.

Computing

An inside look at Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx, a revolutionary laptop processor

Six years after Microsoft’s failed foray into ARM computing with Windows RT, its second effort with Always-Connected PC is now showing early signs of success. Microsoft partner Qualcomm told us how the Snapdragon 8cx might revolutionize…
Computing

New rumors say the Pixelbook 2 could show up at CES 2019

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.
Computing

Hololens 2 could give the Always Connected PC a new, ‘aggressive’ form

Microsoft is said to be leaning on Qualcomm to power its Hololens 2 headset. Instead of Intel CPUs, the next Hololens could use a Snapdragon 850 processor, allowing it to benefit from the always-connected features.
Mobile

Android 9.0 updates to stretch into 2019 — will your phone get a slice of Pie?

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Computing

Following the Portal, augmented reality glasses may be Facebook’s next step

Following the launch of its Portal smart display, Facebook says it is working on AR glasses, possibly in a move at challenging both Apple and Google and perhaps to rise up in the hardware scene. 
Mobile

From the road to your wrist, see how Android has evolved over the past 10 years

Android started out as just a mobile operating system, but 10 years in it's pretty much everywhere. Check out our round-up of all the different Android variations that have cropped up so far, and what might be coming in the future.
Computing

Oculus VR could upgrade the Rift with a new display in 2019

Oculus could be set to release a new version of its Rift headset in 2019, but it will be more of a modest upgrade than a true sequel. The Rift S, as its purportedly called, will have a new display, and inside-out tracking.
Mobile

Google awarded patent for using eye tracking to detect expressions in VR

Google was awarded a patent that involves using eye tracking to infer facial expressions using machine learning in virtual reality. The tech could help make virtual reality a whole lot more immersive than it already is.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.
Virtual Reality

Is the Vive Pro better than the original Vive? Our answer might surprise you

HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, which comes out on top? That's the subject of our latest comparison, which looks at everything from tracking solutions, to controllers, and the brand new headset that could set a new standard for VR.
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

A Google patent shows a way to make VR even more immersive

Virtual reality can be a really immersive experience, but it does sometimes it does have boundaries. Google has addressed this problem by patenting shoes with a flexible region on the bottom.
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.