For years, VR for consumers was a distant dream. As the technical capabilities of modern hardware and software have flourished to offer a more accessible approach to VR, it is apparent that these once lofty ambitions are becoming a reality.
Google’s new Daydream platform not only solidifies the substance of virtual reality as a medium, but extends its reach farther and faster than anyone might have thought.
Announced during the recent Google I/O event, Daydream opens doors for high-quality VR experiences on mobile devices, due in part to the new Android VR Mode, which enables a slew of new phones shipping this fall to support high-performance mobile VR features built on top of Android N.
In addition, every single Daydream headset ships with an intuitive, responsive controller that enhances experiences in rich, interactive environments.
What this means is that developers have more opportunities than ever to put meaningful VR experiences into the hands of millions of people by the end of the year. Ironically, the days of dreaming about VR are just about over.
"The magic of VR is broken if you don’t have hands."
Nick Whiting, Epic Games
Developers having the means to create content for Daydream is essential to not only the platform’s success, but the ongoing success of the VR ecosystem. That’s why Epic Games CTO Kim Libreri took to the stage at Google I/O to announce Unreal Engine support for Daydream.
He then revealed a new sample game that Epic Games principal artist Shane Caudle made by himself for Daydream within the span of two weeks.
Libreri observed that natural input made for VR is hugely important in making people believe they have been transported to another place, and nothing beats the immersive qualities of incorporating motion controls into VR.
Nick Whiting, Epic Games’ technical director of VR and AR, elaborated on the Daydream controller, a major advancement for crafting gameplay mechanics and exploration for mobile VR.
“Once you’ve interacted with motion controllers, it’s hard to go back,” he said. “You see the magic of being in-game, but the illusion is broken if you don’t have hands.”
With a variety of platforms that support a range of input methods and technical depth, developers looking to create content for VR are limited only by
“Almost everyone can wave their hands around and use a trackpad,” Whiting explained. “It’s very simple, so it’s hard to do something wrong.”
Best of all, those wishing to dive in now don’t have to wait. Unreal Engine 4 support for Daydream is available through GitHub, which brings live code updates to the community on a daily basis, and Daydream support is also in the Unreal Engine 4.12 binary tools.
While the world of virtual reality is moving at a breakneck pace, it’s moments like these that are worth dreaming about.