While there is a plethora of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets on the market, the new light, comfortable and stylish Daydream View by Google feels like a game changer.
None of the previous headsets have quite hit the sweet spot in terms of price, comfort and usability, to make VR experiences accessible to the mass market. But Google’s Daydream is considerably cheaper than the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, is far more comfortable that Google Cardboard and is for mobile VR, so users don’t require a powerful PC.
The reason it’s such a game changer is because it isn’t a single product, it’s a platform for high-quality mobile VR for Android smartphones with a controller system that works. Although current phones don’t have the necessary hardware, Google has established the specifications and minimum requirements for a great VR experience once Daydream Ready phones hit the market. As well as the mobiles, what is a little scarce right now are the apps and games people will want to experience in VR, but that is changing.
Microgaming is a casino game developer and they have dipped their toe in the water of VR casino possibilities with VR Roulette. Players are able to enter a futuristic Cryo lab and play the traditional casino game with a robot dealer. The game won the Digital Gaming Innovation award at the Global Gaming Awards 2015 and could be the first step towards a revolution of iGaming with VR. With several “Digital Product of the year” prizes at the Global Gaming Awards since 2014, Microgaming is not short of ideas for innovation in all manners of casino games, so we can expect to see all the best online slots, blackjack, baccarat and poker variants become fixtures of the ultimate VR iGaming experience.
There is a spin-off movie from the Harry Potter universe coming out soon, but of far more interest to Hogwarts’ fans should be the VR experience that’s available for free on the Google Play Store.
Called Fantastic Beasts, in truth it’s a little underwhelming, yet suggests very good things are just around the corner. Created by Framestore, which has other interesting VR projects in development featuring Game of Thrones, The Avengers and Interstellar, Fantastic Beasts is also available for free download on the Google Play Store. The visuals are superb, but the gameplay is very basic and players will be left wanting more after a very short time. It functions as a good introduction to the world of VR and Potter fans will be excited about what’s to come.
With greater immersion into content, accurate head tracking and a terrific software interface for casual browsing VR will change the way we view YouTube. Hopping from one video to another no longer feels like a laborious task and you can keep an eye on what’s playing in the background while cueing up your next morsel of content.
There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of creating immersive video content for YouTube VR, but the app itself feels honed, intuitive and ready for business.
The environment is very subtle and does not distract from the content as you find yourself in an empty geodesic dome with a floating screen in front of you. YouTube’s interface hangs suspended in the air around the screen and you can dismiss it once you start to watch, or bring it up again with just a click on the chocolate-bar-style Daydream controller.
The issue of typing what content you want to search for is handled through a voice search option and the whole experience feels refined and eclipses what we’ve seen so far from Google Street View or Google Play. You will spend a lot of time within YouTube’s perfectly polished VR app.
Google’s Daydream View has nailed the hardware and though not quite there yet, the apps you want are imminent. VR has been about potential for a long time now, but that potential is so close to being realized that right now it’s really not too early to be excited about where VR will take us.