Google IO 2017 - Seminal Moment for Virtual Reality

Posted by Abhijeet Naik at 2017-05-18 11:23:48

Google IO 2017 - Seminal Moment for Virtual Reality

It’s a really exciting era of tech we are living in and the rate of growth of virtual reality is really mesmerizing. Palmer’s Oculus VR launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on August 1 of 2012 which was the first prototype of desktop grade Virtual Reality Headset. As of now the Virtual Reality as a technology has travelled leaps and bounds from desktop grade to high quality mobile Virtual Reality. As Virtual Reality keeps on progessing VR manufactures realized that Mobility is the key for Virtual Reality. 

Google announced yesterday in the ongoing I/O 2017 Conference, Standalone VR headsets with collaboration with HTC Vive, which we believe that will be a seminal moment for VR. So what exactly is a standalone VR headset? The idea is that every component of VR mainly the CPU and GPU is built right into the headset which means there is no need of high end and expensive PC, no more wires, and no need of a mobile phone which means theres no dependency on the manufacturers of the mobiel devices (there are so many and to build VR apps for each of them is painstaking), hopefully will lead to some amount of standardization of the VR HMD’s GPUs. The announcement also stated that these standalone VR headsets will also have inside-out tracking which means no need to setup external cameras or sensors for hand tracking and true to scale positional tracking. This also enables precise 6 DoF (6 Degrees of Freedom i.e. user can have full movement just like they move in real life). Standalone VR may also have WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity so that you can stay connected to your internet and get awesome VR experiences from the cloud. Having a standalone VR headset is also great for real time rendering which will lead to photorealistc quality as each and every component is optimized for VR, the display (ultra low latency displays), terrific optics with a higher Field of View (hopefully) which will increase the immersion level dramatically. Sensors are now intergrated into standalone VR which will reduce the floating point imprecisions and increase precise tracking. According to few sources, the new standalone VR headset from Google developed a new rendering system called Seurat which will be low powered and high end 3D graphics output. With the positional tracking intergrated to the standalone VR headset will increase immersion significantly allowing one to peek from the balcony of a apartment to see how high one is from the ground for architectural visualization or if you are playing a first person shooter game, one can peek from a wall to see if there are enemies lying in wait while you stay in cover. 

While the device has just been announced and expected to be shipped by end of 2017, there is no mention of the cost. Hopefully, it will come in the rest of the conference thats still happening. It will be really interesting to see if they actually launch the devices in countries like India where there are a few VR developers who will want to test these devices for their startups. Case in point: Daydream HMD hasn’t been launched as yet & HTC Vive started retailing in India in May 2017!

It will be interesting to see the price point of the device. It certainly wont be as high as tethered VR which can cost upto ~$2000?—?$2500 (~$1200 for the gaming rig + $350-$500 for the Head Mounted Device + cost of the Controllers)

It will be truly awesome if they can compete with the Mobile VR Market say the Samsung Gear VR, which retails at $725 + the HMD: $130. It will be awesome of they can price it in the range of $900-$1000! That will kill it! 

Looking forward to more important VR announcements at Google I/O 2017! 

This promises to be a kick-ass year for VR!

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