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Google's current VR plan is more about services than new hardware

Google has no plans to release VR hardware this year, telling CNET that the company is instead working through an R&D phase to “build the critical Lego bricks” that will power future experiences.

The last couple of years have seen Google taking a more hardware-centric approach to virtual reality. Last year, for instance, saw the release of Lenovo’s standalone Daydream-powered Mirage Solo headset and, later, more features like 6DOF and AR for that headset. The year prior, Google led with its phone-powered Daydream View headset.

For 2019, Google says its VR presence will be felt more through software and services. The company is involved in a number of projects in the virtual reality space, including an upcoming Oculus Quest release of the Google-developed VR art tool Tilt Brush, continued support for YouTube’s VR offerings, and projects being developed by Google-owned Owlchemy Labs.

"On the VR front, our focus right now is much more on services and the bright spots where we see VR being really useful," Clay Bavor, Google’s head of VR and AR told CNET.

Bavor notes that the company sees Lenovo's Mirage Solo as a sort of dev kit for developers still interested in developing for Google’s Daydream platform and says that the company has been pushing to make the Mirage Solo “really useful for developers” over the past year.

"On the hardware and devices side, again, I characterize the phase we're in as deep R&D, focused on building the critical Lego bricks behind closed doors,” Bavor says, discussing Google’s current hardware plans. “If you can dream it, we probably have a prototype of it somewhere in one of our labs."

It’s not all going to be plastic. Today, virtually everyone loves everything about VR, which accounts for the magnitude of its success. But the technology continues to evolve at a breakneck speed. One focus of technological advances related to VR is the engineering and design of the headset. Expectedly, there are ultra high-tech and complicatedly designed headsets out there. But some tech wizards have taken it one step further, thereby making it way more accessible to everyone. Now, there are tutorials about making VR headsets out of pieces of cardboard. Not only has this opened a plethora of possibilities for VR, it has gotten people to think in creative ways to upsize their experiences.

XRDC 2019 is looking for speakers! Submit your talk here. (XRDC and Gamasutra are UBM Americas brands.)

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