We had a bit of a different experience today in what was our usual Concept Art class. Representatives from Google brought in a stack of Google Cardboard devices to look at and do some experiences.
I’d never really known much about Cardboard, outside of the general public reviews that I read when it first came out (which was about two and a half years ago now). Having looked into it now further, it seems that the Cardboard software has been updated with the release of the Pixl phone; instead, there’s now Daydream along with a new headset to go with it.
The Daydream View was announced and subsequently released towards the back-end of last year, although currently it’s compatible with only 4 phones. As opposed to the Cardboard, the Daydream was also packaged with a wireless controller that could be used to interact with the VR world.
This controller can be used for interacting with the virtual world through button presses or through waving the device. On-board sensors are used to track the orientation of the controller and approximate the position of the user’s hand. The Daydream View’s controller can be stored inside the headset while not in use.
This seems like a big leap for Google, compared to the Cardboard devices that we got to try out. Having tried other VR devices that cost much more than a Cardboard, I can see the appeal to having something like that for non-immersive 3D experiences. You wouldn’t really be able to play games, but looking around at underwater environments or seeing Mount Everest up close are certainly doable.
The one thing I did find was that, since I wear glasses, it was a little difficult to wear the Cardboard as close to my face in order to get the best picture. Taking off my glasses didn’t make things much better, since then things were blurry. It could just be because my glasses are slightly wider-rimmed, so they didn’t fit into the device perfectly. My focus was a bit off as well until someone mentioned to move the phone about in the device until it was at a point where things were clearer.
Finally, I found it difficult to look into it for a long period of time. While I know I can wear a headset for at least an hour (such as our Vive at home), I suppose holding the Cardboard in front of my eyes to look through provided less stability and made me feel more motion sickness. That isn’t to day it’s the same for everyone, but it would be nice to find a way to have a head-strap on the device, to see if that would alleviate any problems there.
I’d be curious to try out a Daydream once more phones are compatible with the software – I believe you need, at minimum, Android Nougat or higher. The phone would also need the ability to dedicate processing power to the Daydream interface, in order to reduce the latency and potential for motion sickness; the phones need to be designated “Daydream-ready” in order to be compatible.
Bringing VR down in price and making it more readily available for mass consumption is a positive in the industry, but I think there are still areas for improvement with something like the Cardboard, which is why it’s nice to see Google hasn’t stop developing their VR software/hardware.