With the release of Google’s first VR platform, Google Cardboard, our descent into the virtual world has been, well, virtually painless—and pretty affordable. Since it was released two years ago, Google Cardboard has been a great way to introduce the virtual experience in an easy-entry, low-cost way. The $10 cardboard units fold out like an origami pair of goggles, fitting on the end of your smartphone. From there you’re pretty much free to do anything from exploring underwater worlds with two marine biologists to interacting with TV’s Mr. Robot. (Although it’s available only on Android as of now, Cardboard Camera, an app for creating panoramic VR images, will soon be available for iOS as well, meaning iPhone users will no longer be the social pariahs of the VR world.)
But if you’re looking to upgrade your escapist experience, Google’s got you covered. Google Daydream View, cannily released just before the holidays in November, has finally made its mainstream debut with a smartphone-ready headset. Google’s newest VR platform promised a super-high-quality, high-performance mobile VR experience, and it didn’t disappoint. The upgrade includes an ergonomic headset and an “easy to use” handheld controller, transforming your run-of-the-mill Android user into a cycloptic, wand-wielding demigod—if that’s your thing.
And the improvements won’t end here. Clay Bavor, vice president of virtual reality at Google, has begun working with other smartphone manufacturers to create Daydream-ready phones that support the next-gen hardware needed for the VR juggernaut. This includes low-latency sensors and low-persistence displays for extended use.
Google’s plunge into virtual reality has excited not only consumers but also content creators. Almost everyone has hopped on the bandwagon, with HBO Now, YouTube, IMAX, and the NBA creating apps with 360-degree capabilities. Already, Google Daydream is geared up to change the future of the viewing experience. And hey, if all else fails, just think of the porn—if you weren’t already.