5 Things We Don‘t Know About Google’s Daydream VR

Google held their #madebygoogle Keynote last week to announce a number of new hardware products, many of which had already leaked in the days and weeks preceding the event. Google’s latest offering in the VR world has already been publicly announced and discussed by Google, but this was our first glimpse of the Daydream View, the first headset compatible with the Daydream VR platform.

The keynote covered multiple products in a small amount of time. When it was time to present the Daydream View, Clay Bavor, Google’s Vice President of Virtual Reality, kept things quite simple while announcing the headset. He focused on presenting the headset as something less technical and less intimidating to the average user. The simplified presentation covered a lot of the basics for the View, but it didn’t get into the nitty-gritty of the platform experience or headset.

Here are 5 questions we still have about Daydream VR and the Daydream View:

1) What is the “Field of View” (FOV) on the Daydream View?

Despite a vague mention of Daydream View’s FOV, Bavor never gave an exact number. Google’s Daydream View website also does not include any specifications in this regard.

Let’s take a look at the field of view in other headsets. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift both have a 110 degree field of view, while the New Gear VR (2016 edition) has a 100 degree field of view; an increase from their 2015 edition’s 96 degree FOV.

According to Road To VR, it appears that the Daydream View will have a 90 degree field of view, which would be noticeably narrower than the other platforms mentioned above, but we’ll need to wait and see what official specifications will be released and what impact that will have on the experience.

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2) Will the “Screen Door Effect” (SDE) be an issue?

The Screen Door Effect is the name given to the appearance of grid lines visible in VR. These lines are actually the gaps between pixels which become significantly more noticeable when looking through VR lenses that magnify the screen. It’s dependent on the resolution and size of the display, or simply, the pixel density (ppi) of the phone’s screen.

The Google Pixel phone comes in two variants, a 5” version and a 5.5” version. The 5” Pixel boasts a 441 ppi display, while the 5.5” Pixel XL ramps that up to 534 ppi. Let’s compare those numbers to other platforms.

The HTC Vive has a pixel density of 447 ppi, the Oculus Rift is just above that with 456 ppi, and the Playstation VR is expected to be lower than both. The Gear VR uses a variety of Samsung phones for its display, so the ppi can range from as low as 534 ppi on the Galaxy S7 Edge up to 576 ppi on the S6 and S7 phones.

Of course, lenses, pixel configurations and other optics specifications can be determining factors beyond ppi, but it sounds like both Pixel variants are comparable to current platforms. Odds are that the Pixel XL will have a slightly reduced SDE, but the difference may be negligible to the average user.

3) Who is the design partner for the Daydream View hardware?

The design of the Daydream View is unlike any of its predecessors in the category of VR headsets. Unlike the typical rigid, plastic headsets that we’re used to, the View is made of soft fabrics for most of its materials. According to Bavor, the purpose was to remember that it is something to be worn. His team wanted to make the headset comfortable and easy to clean. It’s a big change from what we’re used to, but it’s already getting praise for its comfort level compared to the competition.

One of the interesting points that wasn’t completely addressed is that Google apparently teamed up with a clothing/shoe company to design the headset. One can assume that this unnamed company was involved in the selection of materials and style, while Google handled the electronics. However, we still do not know which company it is. Any theories, anyone?

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4) How will your Daydream View Library, Store and Updates be handled on your phone?

With the Gear VR, the Oculus software is first installed by inserting your compatible phone into the headset. After installation, you can view your Gear VR library, store and updates virtually while wearing the Gear VR headset, or simply by using the Oculus app on your phone (without the headset). This app contains all things related to your Gear VR. You can manage your account, view the store and purchase apps/games, install them, update them, read user reviews, and view your library. It’s basically like a Google Play Store concept, but specifically for the Gear VR platform.

Will Daydream VR have a similar app at some point? Will everything run through the Google Play Store, or will there be a way to isolate your VR content? Perhaps the Daydream VR content will have its own section of the existing store, rather than adding an additional store specifically for the platform.

5) When will we see more compatible phones for the Daydream VR platform?

We already know that the Google Pixel and Pixel XL will be compatible, but what’s next? According to Google, a large number of Android phone manufacturers have already agreed to make Daydream-compatible phones, including Samsung, HTC, Huawei and LG.

The only company to already announce a Daydream phone is ZTE, with their Axon 7. According to VRHeads.com, the Axon 7 will feature some top-of-the-line specs behind its 5.5” screen. VRHeads.com also points out that this phone is not yet officially recognized as a Daydream-compatible phone by Google, but perhaps it’s just a matter of time.

When will we see the other big players announce their Daydream ready products? Assuming that these other manufacturers will release their upcoming flagship phones with high-end hardware and Android 7, more could be just around the corner. It will be interesting to see how Samsung handles this, considering that Daydream VR is basically in direct competition with their Gear VR platform. Could the next Samsung flagship (RIP Note 7) be compatible with both Gear VR and Daydream VR?

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Written by:

David | VR Giant
Twitter: @wttdavid
Email: david@vrgiant.com

  • DrN00b

    what about utilizing the camera for augmented reality?

    • http://www.vrgiant.com David C.

      I haven’t had a hands-on with the Daydream View just yet, but from what I can tell, there is no opening in the front flap for the camera.