Google just declared virtual reality war on Facebook and Samsung

Google just introduced Google Daydream — a new design for virtual reality that it hopes will beat out Facebook’s Oculus as the new standard for virtual reality.

Like the Samsung Gear VR, which is powered by Facebook’s Oculus technology, the Google Daydream design will let you slot in a smartphone as an easy, affordable path to virtual reality.

But the Gear VR only works with Samsung phones. Google is thinking a little bigger.

“VR should be mobile, approachable, and for everyone,” executive Clay Bavor said on stage at Google’s I/O developers’ conference on Wednesday.

Any device manufacturer can build an Android phone that’s compatible with Google Daydream, so long as it runs the forthcoming Android N operating system and meets some minimum specifications.

Furthermore, any manufacturer can take Google’s design for the Daydream virtual reality headset and build their own version. So long as both the phone and the headset are Daydream-compatible, it will work.

Google has already signed on Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei, Alcatel, ZTE, Xiaomi and Asus to make phones that would work with Daydream.

Since Google introduced its deceptively simple Cardboard headset back at its 2014 conference, virtual reality has turned into the next big battleground, with Facebook and Samsung all making big bets on the technology.

But Facebook’s Oculus headset is really expensive and Samsung’s Gear only works with Samsung phones. By making Daydream open and accessible, Google hopes to capture a big chunk of the market.

And although recent reports have indicated that Google was working on a new kind of headset that wouldn’t need a phone to work, we didn’t hear anything about that at the conference on Wednesday.

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