from the glass-on-steroids dept.
Google will reportedly release a smartphone-assisted virtual reality headset in 2016 and build virtual reality software features into Android rather than rely on an app. The device will use plastic casing, add extra sensors, and include better lenses than those distributed with Google Cardboard:
We've said a few times now that Google's virtual reality initiative is too big for the company to just be working on Google Cardboard, and now The Financial Times has published a report detailing what seems to be the next phase of Google's VR push. The report says that Google is working on "a successor to Cardboard," creating a higher-quality headset and building VR software directly into Android.
The device sounds like a Google version of Samsung's Gear VR. Like Cardboard, the headset will be powered by your existing smartphone, with a "more solid plastic casing" along with better lenses and sensors. Also like Cardboard, this won't be limited to just a handful of devices, with the report saying that the headset "will be compatible with a much broader range of Android devices than Gear VR."
Such a device sounds like it would occupy a compelling spot in the market. The Gear VR is a great device—the $100 headset is a powerful entry-level VR experience—but it only works with Samsung phones. Cardboard has much wider phone compatibility, but it comes with a huge list of compromises that lead to a subpar experience. Taking the Gear VR model and expanding it to accept most popular smartphones sounds like a solid idea.
Even with the simplicity of the design, the company did make a few changes to Cardboard 2. The base model now requires only three steps to set up with your smartphone instead of seven. The viewports are smaller and circular, indicating that there's more cardboard used to hold the phone in place. Even with the increase of material used throughout the viewer, it's able to hold large phones such as the iPhone 6 Plus and the Nexus 6.
Here's a direct download link. It's about 9 megabytes and contains the technical specifications, "Works with Google Cardboard" - the best practices for third-party Cardboard sellers, technical drawings, and 3D models.
The New York Times has announced a collaboration with Google to deliver over 1 million Cardboard virtual reality viewers to NYT home delivery subscribers with their newspapers over the weekend of November 7 and 8. Online subscribers will receive a promo code by email that will allow them to claim a free Cardboard viewer. NYT will also create free VR content:
The paper worked closely with IM360 to create the NYT VR application. The app will be available for free for both iOS 8+ and Android 4.3+. It can be used with the Google Cardboard viewer, but a pair of VR googles is not required to view the video. NYTimes.com will host 2D versions of the videos, and 360-degree YouTube versions will be found on the company's YouTube channel.
The first video being released through NYT VR is a collaboration between The New York Times Magazine and Chris Milk at Vrse. Together, they created a film called The Displaced, which covers the story of three young children -- one from South Sudan, one from eastern Ukraine, and one from Syria -- who have been uprooted from their homes due to war in their regions. The story is captured with 360-degree cameras and taken from the perspective of these young children, depicting what they go through in their daily lives.
[...] "The power of VR is that it gives the viewer a unique sense of empathic connection to people and events," said Jake Silverstein, Editor in Chief, The New York Times Magazine. "In the context of international reporting and conflict reporting, where our readers rely on us to bring them news and stories from remote and inaccessible places, this has huge potential. Through this immersive video experience, we can put our readers at the center of the most important story of our time."
NYT VR's second planned film is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of The New York Times Magazine's Walking New York cover image. There will be a third video released on NYT VR in December and more in 2016, but we don't have any details about what those videos will be.
The app will be available on November 5th.
How do you profit from virtual reality without the need for customers or products? You sue! Fresh from winning a $500 million judgment against Facebook/Oculus, ZeniMax Media is now suing Samsung:
Carmack, whose company id Software was acquired by ZeniMax in 2009, was one of the driving forces behind the Gear VR. While the headset was released by Samsung, it's described as "powered by Oculus," with heavy software optimizations developed by Carmack. But the lawsuit alleges that Carmack owed much of his success at Oculus to software he developed as part of a team at ZeniMax.
Among other things, the Texas court filing claims that Carmack secretly brought Oculus (and former ZeniMax) employee Matt Hooper into id Software's offices to develop an "attack plan" for mobile VR, which Oculus would later take to Samsung. The Samsung Gear VR was also built on some of the same code as the Oculus Rift, which was the subject of ZeniMax's earlier lawsuit.
Previously: Zenimax Sues Oculus on Trade Secrets
Mark Zuckerberg Will Testify in Oculus VR Trade Secrets Trial
Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
John Carmack Sues ZeniMax for $22.5 Million
Founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, Departs Facebook