Google unveiled the “Daydream View” VR headset and wand controller at its product launch event in San Francisco today. The headset-and-controller combo, which the company calls a “different take” on VR headsets, will be available for preorder later this month for $79 and ships out in November.
Similar to Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Cardboard—the latter was the company’s first VR product—the Daydream View requires a smartphone to work. The headset and phone get synchronized wirelessly. The first phone to work with the Daydream View is Google’s newly announced Pixel smartphone but other Android handsets will soon be compatible.
“With Daydream, you simply pop a Daydream-ready phone in the headset to start exploring,” writes Clay Bavor, head of Google’s VR team, in a blog post. “Powered by Android 7.0 Nougat, Daydream-ready phones are built with high-resolution displays, powerful mobile processors and high-fidelity sensors—all tuned to support great VR experiences. Google’s newest Pixel and Pixel XL are the first Daydream-ready phones, and there are a lot more on the way from leading Android smartphone makers.”
According to Google, Daydream View provides consumers with a better optic experience by using an alignment system of conductive knobs that aligns pixels with knobs and self-corrects, when needed. But what truly sets the product apart is its palm-sized controller: it lets the user swipe and click through content and gives the person 3-degrees of freedom.
“It points where you point, and is packed with sensors to understand your movements and gestures,” writes Bavor. “You can swing it like a bat or wave it like a wand. And it’s so precise that you can draw with it. The controller slides right inside the headset when not in use, so you don’t have to worry about losing it in your bag or between couch cushions.”
Aesthetically speaking, the headset looks as if it is lined by garment used to make sweats. According to Google, the goal was to make something comfortable so the headset features stretchy, breathable fabric that will encourage users to use the device for longer stretches of time. The headset is also a third lighter than Samsung Gear VR—a competing product in the market.
"We worked with clothing designers and makers to get the design just right, and the result is something that's soft, and cozy, and feels great to wear," said Bavor during the announcement.
Those who invest in the headset can utilize it in several ways. Users can use it to view Google Street View content where they can take virtual tours of landmarks around the globe. Or they can view movies in 2D from the comfort of their home in a theater-style VR setting. YouTube has already built an app for the platform and USA Today reports other third party apps will come from the likes of Electronic Arts, Hulu, Netflix, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
The company first announced Android-based virtual reality platform at its annual I/O developer conference earlier this year in Mountain View, Calif. At the time of Google’s I/O conference, the company announced the virtual reality platform that would be optimized to run on Android smartphones like devices from Samsung, Huawei and HTC. The company also said it would be releasing a phone-powered headset “ in the autumn.”