“We love virtual reality. It’s something we believe is going to be important. It’s transporting. With VR you can feel viscerally like you’re in another world — it’s richer, far more immersive,” Clay Bavor, Google’s VP of VR, said in his opening statement.
The Daydream headset is priced at $79 for both the controller and headset. Bavor emphasized that what sets it apart is the comfort level and ease of use.
VR headsets are often seen as clunky, bulky and uncomfortable. That’s why Bavor says his team partnered with clothing designers to develop a comfortable, plush-looking device that looks more like a sleeping eye mask than a piece of hardware. Bavor says the device is made of fabrics, soft microfiber and other materials you’d find in athletic wear.
“We weren’t inspired by gadgets. What do people actually wear?” Bavor said. “Things that are soft, flexible, and breathable.”
The other design elements include it being more lightweight (30% lighter than similar devices) and having room for people with glasses to see comfortably.
Moreover, he noted, the others look too similar to one another. Daydream will be offered in “slate” (grey) this November and will be released in “snow” (ivory) and “crimson” next year.
Currently, the Google Pixel is the only “Daydream-ready” device, though the company announced that other collaborations are forthcoming. Bavor did not, however, specify which other phones would work with Daydream.
The headset and your phone connect wirelessly. Bavor emphasized that the company developed an auto-align system to ensure that the visual is spot-on.
Of course, the headset comes with a controller with motion sensors that respond to how you move. “It’s so precise that you can draw your name with it,” Bavor said.
A key element (and likely a jab at Apple’s earpods) of the controller is that it has a home inside the headset itself. Once you’re done using Daydream, you can just tuck the controller into the pocket so it’s hard to lose it.
Daydream currently has over 50 app and game partners, including Netflix (NFLX), HBO, Hulu and Warner Bros., in terms of content offerings, according to director of VR business development at Google Adrienne McCallister. She emphasized the immersive offerings, like JK Rowling’s wizarding world (that transforms your controller into a wand that you can use to levitate objects and cast spells) and 150 curated tours that you can take from the comfort of your couch.
Daydream could be a gamechanger, especially for those who aren’t willing to dole out $599 for an Oculus Rift (FB) but want an upgrade from a cheap but flimsy Google Cardboard. However, until other phones become Daydream ready, few will have the opportunity to see the world through Google’s daydream.
Melody Hahm is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.
Read more about the #MadebyGoogle event: