Where’d the VR go at Google I/O?

No updates on Daydream then.

Yesterday Google held its main keynote address to mark the start of its annual I/O conference in California. If you watched the livestream or were actually there then you’ll have heard lots about AI, machine learning, Google Assistant and even a little mention of augmented reality (AR) integration in Google Maps. However, there was one glaring ommission from the event where VRFocus is concerned, and that was virtual reality (VR). 

AltspaceVR-Daydream-RL1 (2)

Expectations prior to the keynote were that it would likely feature the Daydream platform in someway, maybe mention plans for its WorldSense technology which debuted this week with the Lenovo Mirage Solo, or perhaps even some VR180 news regarding new cameras.

Yet there was nothing, not a blip, a mention, or even a slip up. Last year’s event had plenty to talk about with Google’s Vice President of Virtual and Augmented Reality Clay Bavor taking to the stage. This year he was noticeably absent. So did Google really have nothing to talk about? Does this spell the end of the company’s interest in VR and continued support? Most likely no, yet sometimes saying nothing is worse than saying anything at all.

Updates to mobile headset Daydream View weren’t really expected as the headset had a redesign towards the end of 2017. Yet for owners of the device it probably would’ve been nice to see some news regarding the Daydream platform in general, especially for those who’ve bought the Lenovo Mirage Solo for $399 USD. The software platform has around 350 apps and videogames available, far below main rival Samsung Gear VR and it’s new sibling Oculus Go, which Facebook touted last week as having over 1000 experiences straight off the bat. That difference is quite significant, even with Oculus Go not featuring inside-out tracking it’s still cheaper and has a great deal more content.

Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream

While Facebook’s F8 conference was all over VR – and to some extent AR – Google I/O was the polar opposite. ARCore 1.2 was mentioned and looks to be sustaining interest from the company since it’s launch a couple of months back. Yet where was the mention of the work being carried out by developers, are there no exciting apps and videogames on the horizon?

Going back to hardware, Lenovo might have partnered with the search giant last year but has no one else? It seems surprising that since HTC parted ways on the headset collaboration, creating Vive Focus instead, that Google wouldn’t have then looked for other tech companies to make their own, similar to Microsoft and Windows Mixed Reality. Thus offering numerous points of entry on the Daydream platform. That could be due to the size of the VR market or just the fact that Daydream isn’t massively supported.

In addition to VR headsets there’s also Google’s new VR180 camera system, creating 180-degree 3D photos. The Lenovo Mirage Camera and YI Horizon VR180 Camera are now available, yet there was no mention of the system or what Google plans to do in the future.

It would be foolish to think Google has lost interest in VR due to all the other developments that have been rolled out, PolyBlocks, Tilt Brush, Jump, Google Earth VR, Expeditions and Cardboard. But in 2018 VR is now bigger than ever and continues to grow, whether that’s at home, on location, or being used for business, so why the apparent snub?

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