Google is tackling virtual reality this year. Like, for reals.
Or at least that's what Re/code and The Financial Times have reported. The search giant is putting together a "dedicated division" solely for virtual-reality computing, and the whole thing is being run by a "key deputy" at the company, who Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, personally appointed. Google has apparently confirmed these changes, but it has declined to divulge any specifics.
Google has been dabbling in virtual reality for a while now, however, with the company releasing a do-it-yourself cardboard kit that turns into a budget virtual-reality headset. More recently, Google added support for VR-enabled videos. They're an immersive type of video that require an Android phone, the latest version of the YouTube app, and Cardboard.
According to the Financial Times source Google plans to make a host of Android software virtual reality upgrades that will be shown off soon. By integrating the virtual reality capabilities right into the OS, Google has reportedly cut down on latency which should make for a more immersive experience without lag that can leave some users feeling dizzy.
Re/code believes Google is now looking to take on Facebook's Oculus VR and Microsoft's HoloLens, but it doesn't want to get too carried away like it did with Google Glass, which became more of a gimmicky joke than a desired piece of hardware overtime. It might finally even be taking advantage of its investment in augmented reality firm Magic Leap. The FT claims this headset will be an upgrade to Cardboard that takes on Samsung's smartphone based Gear VR headset. The new version should have more hardware in the headset, rather than simply acting as a lens holding headset - a bit like the Oculus powered Gear VR then.
One big sell for the new Google VR headset could be that it is able to work with a variety of Android handsets, claims the FT.
Clay Bavor, a vice president for product management, who has long run Google's apps, such as Gmail, Drive, and Docs, and who has overseen Cardboard, is now going to focus on developing actual VR products at Google, while his previous apps division as well as web apps will fall under Diane Greene, a senior vice president who joined Google in November.
Bavor is presumably that key deputy appointed by Pinchai, and his move into virtual reality allegedly shows that Google is taking VR seriously. Keep in mind over 400 people at Facebook currently working on Oculus Rift, which was recently given a steep price tag and is due to launch in the coming months. So, Google has a bit of catching up to do.