Every year during Google I/O we're treated to a wealth of new stuff, much of it which won't launch until the end of the year, but is nonetheless exciting. For those that were looking forward to some serious virtual reality announcements this year, Google did not disappoint. During the I/O 16 Keynote they announced a whole new VR platform, dubbed Daydream, that will launch in earnest later this year. Much like Cardboard was, Daydream is being developed as a sort of reference platform right now, which has been previewed to developers as well as device manufacturers already. This will result in "Daydream Ready" marked smartphones running Android N and above as well as "Daydream Ready" headsets.
Where hardware is concerned, big names like HTC and Samsung have already signed up to work on Daydream Ready headsets, which should give users a wide range of devices to use when they launch in the Fall. Google themselves however, has announced that they will be working on launching their own Daydream VR headsets and controllers. Whether or not this will fall under the "Nexus" branding like their smartphones and tablets have done in the past, or something else is unclear, but it's an interesting move from Google, and one that cements their position in VR. The industry must have watched Cardboard with interest over the past couple of years as it gave birth to all manner of compatible headsets that offer better lenses and more comfortable headsets, but Daydream looks set to be a whole different ball game.
Google has become a hardware company over the last few years, and it looks like Daydream is only going to join the already long list of smartphones, tablets and Chromebooks. The good news for the whole Daydream ecosystem is that if Google gets into the hardware game alongside Huawei, ZTE, ASUS, Alcatel, Samsung, HTC, LG and Xiaomi it should create pressure on these manufacturers to raise their game, much like the Nexus smartphones have done since the original Nexus One was launched all those years ago. Daydream hardware and software is due to launch in the Fall later this year.