Is Google working on a standalone VR headset or not?


The saga of the grand (and elusive) Google VR headset continues in a very confusing way. Reports leading up to Google I/O suggested Google was working on a VR headset, and while we thought we might see it launch at the big developers’ conference, what we got instead was a VR platform called Daydream.

Alongside that platform was a reference design for advanced VR headsets and controllers, and Google confirmed that they would eventually create an actual headset based on that design to get the ball rolling.

Google Daydream VR headset controller

But plans for a more advanced VR headset are said to have been scrapped. That’s the word from Recode, anyway, who was told that Google scrapped a headset that would compete with the likes of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Stop right there, though, because Engadget has it on good authority that the company is still working on some sort of high-end VR hardware, however the project Google is exploring now is more of a hybrid VR and AR (augmented reality) experience, and it’d be more akin to Microsoft’s Hololens than anything else. The device will reportedly be standalone with its own display and hardware, so you won’t need a PC or phone to carry around.

Indeed, we’ve long suspected that Google’s vision for the future is supplanted more within the augmented reality realm. For starters, the troubled Google Glass was the very first stepping stone into a world where our surroundings became our user interface through the advent of a heads-up display. The project hit a bit of a standstill in terms of consumer development, though Google still appears to be testing things behind the scenes with enterprises.

More than that, though, was the advent of Tango. It’s augmented reality on a whole casserole of steroids. When we first saw the capabilities of Tango — its ability to map areas in 3D and detect its relative position in a room — we were blown away. We thought it might be an expensive technology to access, but then this affordable device came to fruition. It’s clear that augmented reality is still important for Google, and Tango is going to be a very big deal in the future of virtual experiences.

Lenovo PHAB2 Pro Tango Lowes app JAD_0164

So, is Google making a headset or not? Maybe, or maybe not. It’s possible that Recode was told about a specific project and not VR plans in general, and that perhaps their source didn’t have access to Google’s other goings-on to paint a better picture.

In short, your guess is as good as anyone’s at this point, but with all the hiring they’ve been doing to get some sort of serious hardware off the ground we’re going to opt to believe we’re in for something big within the next couple of years.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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