There's no doubt that virtual reality is big right now, with Samsung, Facebook, Sony, Razer, Nintendo, and other big-name companies like HTC and Valve all looking to expand into the VR market in the foreseeable future. Even Google is seemingly dabbling in new virtual reality technology as they have created a whole division dedicated to the research, development, and production of VR hardware. Google has already named Clay Bavor as the leader for the division and started hiring on team members like Vine's former GM Jason Toff. Back at the end of January, new job listings even pointed to the possibility that Google could be working on new VR hardware more advanced than their currently available "Cardboard" headset which is not only available from Google, but a wide number of third-party manufacturers who built their own off of Google's open schematics.
There's still no confirmation on Google currently developing new VR tech, a new rumor today though suggests that Google is looking to launch a new VR headset later on this year at some point and that it will be positioned to be a competitor to Samsung's Gear VR. The report also states that Google is working on adding extra support for the hardware into its Android operating system, although without explicitly stating in what way.
While Cardboard has been a decent offering even if it's made from a much more fragile material, Google's new headset will be made of a more durable plastic, have improved sensors, and higher quality lenses for an all around better experience. It's also said that Google will be launching it at some point in 2016 alongside the new Android VR technology, potentially at this year's Google I/O conference happening in Mountain View, CA this Summer. The tech will still rely on a smartphone to power the experience when it comes to the display and processing, but unlike Cardboard where the experience is based on the use and installation of certain applications, this new headset will take advantage of specially developed VR technology that is said to be baked right into the Android OS itself. So far there is no official confirmation from Google on the headset or any detail on a more specific time frame.