Google took a big step forward with the first iteration of Google Cardboard: that simple solution was able to democratize VR and make accessible to everyone. It was, however, a flawed product: too limited and too toy-ish.
Weeks ago rumors started to pour in -we just talked about it a few days ago-, and now it seems clear that Google will soon reveal a new piece of hardware that will be far more advanced and ambitious than Cardboard. It probably will be also a new step between the Gear VR from Samsung and the HTC Vive Pre/Oculus Rift.
According to the WSJ, the new headset from Google won’t be tethered to a smartphone or a PC to work, and that’s something that makes everyone question where will it get its content from. I assume it will have WiFi support, so you’ll have to connect to a streaming server: some kind of ‘VR version of YouTube’, if you will, with some kind of VR Android on it. Uhm.
We’ll see if that’s the case, but that future of an independente headset is quite difficult to imagine: a good VR experience needs a lot of power, and streaming those experiences is for sure really demanding. Interesting times for VR, that’s for sure.
As an owner of a Google Cardboard model, I had doubts about how Samsung Gear VR could really make a difference when the experience should depend more on the mobile phone than on the mobile VR glasses themselves.
In fact, to me the Samsung Gear VR weren’t nothing else than a expensive, pretty version of the Google Cardboard, by I was wrong. On a recent poll in Reddit, some users pointed out the big differences:
- Better optics
- Better field of view
- Better head orientation / tracking (custom sensor vs under-optimized phone sensors when you use Cardboard)
- Low persistence (reduced blur)
- Low latency (OS level changes in Samsung phones made by Oculus)
- High quality lenses
- Inbuilt ventilation ducts to prevent lens fogging
- More content
- A proximity sensor between the lenses so it waits for it to be on your head to begin (and when you take it off, it pauses)
- Built-in controls (at the right side of the goggles)
The difference is clear according to one of those users:
Cardboard is a toy, Gear VR is real virtual reality
And the recent The Verge’s review confirms that Gear VR’s experience is much more suited for VR fans. We’ll see how Oculus Rift performs -it should nicer, but also more expensive and you’ll need a powerful PC- but it seems Samsung has made a compelling case for affordable* VR here.
*Not that affordable considering that you’ve got to be owner of one of the “2015 Samsung GALAXY flagship smartphones” :/