At the Google I/O 2017 developer conference, Google discussed some of the latest developments the company has made in the VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality). Google has been busy developing and integrating these two related technologies into Android smartphones and other devices for some time now, and at the Google I/O 2017 we saw how some of Google’s other projects will connect. Google also talked used the time to discuss some of its new hardware partners who will be involved in the technologies going forwards.
Google reminded us that it introduced the Daydream View VR headset last October. The Daydream View headset is designed to accommodate a smartphone and converts it into a virtual reality headset. Since October we have seen a number of smartphones be Daydream View certified – and the company confirmed that the Samsung Galaxy S8 will be certified this summer with a software update, as will LG’s next flagship device, due later in the year (V30?). Google is also introducing standalone VR headsets with the help of partners, which won’t require a phone or PC to be attached.
Google’s new VR headsets will use a new technology called ‘WorldSense,’ which is for positional tracking. This is how the headset tracks the wearer’s precise moments and it does it using onboard sensors rather than anything else. Google formed an industrial partnership with Qualcomm and has designed a reference headset, which other manufacturers can use as their blueprint for their own designs. Along with this announcement, Google made it clear that HTC and Lenovo are also manufacturing standalone headsets of their own that will use Google’s technology. The first third-party headsets are due later this year.
WorldSense is not only for virtual reality technology: Google is incorporating WorldSense into augmented reality. Indeed, Google went into some detail about the technological underpinnings of WorldSense and explained that it’s based on their work with the Tango technology. Tango consists of a series of sensors and the necessary software so as to be able to track motion and understand perspectives and distances in the real world. WorldSense is essential to augmented reality because it allows the software to accurately place digital objects into real space. The next smartphone to include Tango technology is the ASUS ZenFone AR, which is due to be released in the summer.
Google is pushing augmented reality into the education sphere with the application of Tango technologies. The company has explained that over two million students have already taken ‘virtual field trips’ using Expeditions and Google Cardboard. Later in the year the company is introducing augmented reality lessons via the Pioneer Program, allowing students to learn in a very interactive way that is otherwise impossible with a textbook. Google hopes that in time the combination of AR and VR will be transformed how we work, play, live, and learn.
Tango is also behind Google’s new Visual Positioning Service, or VPS. This is an indoors positioning system designed to be accurate enough to guide customers to the items they are looking for in a store. Google has already started using their VPS in a number of locations such as museums and selected Lowe’s stores; Google has great plans for their VPS including improving accessibility for the visually impaired.
Later in the week, Google confirmed an update coming to the Daydream platform. Daydream 2.0, or Euphrates, will introduce new features to the virtual reality platform and arrive soon. Tweaked will be the design of the main menu, which will neatly organize one’s incoming notifications and house quick access to some controls. Also new in the update will be the ability to cast your VR session to Android TV using Chromecast so that your experiences can be shared with others around you. In Daydream 2.0, there will also be screen recording and the ability to watch YouTube videos with other people in real-time. Pretty damn awesome!
Learn more about Google’s upcoming projects through photos and videos we’ve upload here.
We’ll keep you posted on everything Google I/O 2017 right as it happens! Follow us on social media for up to the minute updates from Google’s Developer Conference.