During Google I/O 2016 Google made a lot of different announcements regarding Android, the new Google Assistant, Android TV, Chromecast and a lot more. One of the bigger and wider announcements that Google has made this year however has been their new approach to Virtual Reality. Previously, Google’s VR efforts were focused on Google Cardboard, a simple platform that essentially split a phone display into two smaller ovals, and then relying on a compatible headset to pipe these 360-degree images to people’s eyes. In this regard, the majority of Virtual Reality headsets all work on the same sort of basic principle, but Google is changing one key aspect of how people experience VR however, with their new controller.
As part of the new Daydream platform, that is being seeded to manufacturers in a reference design, Google is including their own design of a game controller. Looking suspiciously like a Nexus Player remote, this is essentially a Wiimote sort of motion controller that users will be able to do all sorts of things with in-game or just navigating menus. This new controller seems nice and simple to use, and there are few buttons involved for players to fumble with when they’re immersed in whatever it is they’re playing. The controller is remeniscent of the controllers that HTC and Valve include with the Vive, which we were very impressed with when we reviewed it not too long ago.
Controlling what’s going on in VR can be really difficult, and it looks as if Google could have struck the right sort of balance here between ease of use and functionality. The Gear VR from Samsung has a touchpad on the side of the headset to make simple inputs, but the Oculus Rift on the PC has nothing but an Xbox One controller as an official input method right now, as their motion controllers won’t be launching until later this year. Regardless, this is something that Google will no doubt have discovered this during their Cardboard experiment and have resolved to make things better for the future. Daydream isn’t going to be appearing until later this year, some time in the Fall, but it has a lot of promise right now.