The Strategist

Android prepares to dive into virtual reality

05/11/2016 - 16:57

Virtual reality got Google interested so much that the corporation may issue new headset complemented with specialized software, which already has a name - AndroidVR.

Maurizio Pesce via flickr
Maurizio Pesce via flickr
There’s a week before start of a new developers’ conference. Presumably, there will be introduced a new virtual reality helmet. In addition, Google may announce software called AndroidVR, traces of which were found in a recent patch of the game engine Unreal Engine.

Unreal Engine is a software package mainly used to create game content for a variety of platforms - from consoles to mobile devices. The preview version of the Unreal Engine 4.12 mentioned its ability to support of plug-in software AndroidVR, which has not yet been announced. 

Popularity of Oculus Rift, not even released to the market yet, seems to haunt Google's top managers. In 2014, the company took the first step towards a virtual reality by presenting VR-headset Cardboard, which, quite unexpectedly, managed to gain huge popularity.

However, this is not enough. Clay Bavor, who previously was vice president of Gmail and Drive, is now managing Virtual Reality Division at Google. Within his interview with Popular Science, he spoke about key shortcomings of Cardboard’s current version. Advantages such as portability and price make the cardboard VR-helmet just right to start explore the virtual reality world, yet a more experienced driver needs a more serious device.

At the moment, one of Cardboard’s key shortcomings is limited control represented by only a single button. VR offers many opportunities for interaction with the virtual world objects, and the user must have a comprehensive toolkit to fully immerse himself into the imaginary dimension.

Earlier this year, Financial Times reported about Google's willingness to implement specialized functionality for virtual reality in Android. The company claims that it would help increase the mobile platform’s attractiveness in the eyes of content developers (the content can be viewed through the "Google Phone" inserted into the headset). 

The system level integration would reduce the delay and have a positive impact on the user experience. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that Google's new headset would become a competitor to Gear VR. At that, the device will be more self-contained and will not require connection to a smartphone. All electronics will be located inside the helmet.