Although Google has reportedly scrapped development of a standalone virtual reality (VR) headset, a new report indicates that their VR hardware plans have not halted altogether. While the headset they were working on may have been cancelled, and may not be tied to the same device that is currently under development; an anonymous source reported to Engadget that a headset is still coming.
The headset in question will not employ VR exclusively, but will rather use both VR and augmented reality (AR) to create a mixed reality experience. Current virtual reality hardware typically requires the use of an accompanying computer or smartphone, but this device will be a standalone headset, so it won’t require any additional hardware to operate. It will include a built-in display, cameras, and sensors for head tracking. The device will very likely integrate with Daydream, the upcoming virtual reality platform from Google. Reports say that as far as design, Google’s headset will be closer to Microsoft’s Hololens than Oculus Rift. Google’s investment in Magic Leap, a company with various mixed-reality projects in the works, likely has something to do with their plans for the development of this headset.
The focus here appears to be more on the integration of AR and VR rather than creating a VR experience. And integrating AR is something that could stand to make this project incredibly successful; While VR separates the player from reality, AR immerses them in it. A great example of the impact this has on players is Pokémon Go. The recently released Android and iOS app, which uses GPS mapping and augmented reality to create a unique game experience, recently became the most popular mobile game in U.S. history just one week after its release and is already used more than Snapchat. Players can’t get enough, and it is clear that augmented reality is providing an experience that people find highly unique and appealing. And when combining that with virtual reality, it will create a whole new world of endless possibilities. Google has not made any comments on the matter, and a release date for the headset has not been announced yet, but Daydream will be available this fall, and should give some preview of what they are capable of with this new technology.