Google will dive deeper into virtual reality with new headset

Cardboard is about to get even better. Photo: Google

Cardboard is about to get even better. Photo: Google

Google is developing a brand new virtual reality headset for smartphones that will boast deeper integration with its Android software, according to a new report.

The device is expected to be a Cardboard successor that features a better design made out of plastic, plus new lenses, sensors, and more.

Google Cardboard has been an incredibly popular way to enjoy virtual reality games and videos at an affordable price. In late January, Google announced that more than 5 million Cardboard headsets had been shipped so far, and over 1,000 VR apps are now available on Android.

Its new model, according to a source familiar with the plans who has been speaking to the Financial Times, will be more like Samsung’s Gear VR headset — which is essentially Cardboard on steroids, made out of plastic, and with more features.

Like Gear VR, the new Cardboard is expected to pack its own sensors for things like motion tracking, rather than relying on those inside your phone. Unlike Gear VR, it is likely to be compatible with a wide range of Android devices — not just those from Samsung.

What could be even bigger than the headset, however, is Android VR — a new platform that will work alongside it to deliver even greater VR experiences from a smartphone. This will be baked into Android as opposed to being a standalone app, the source says.

When Google announced Cardboard at Google I/O 2014, CEO Sundar Pichai promised it was “just the first step” in its virtual reality endeavour. The company also teased last month, “while you’ve been traveling the world and beyond with Cardboard, we’ve been on a journey, too.”

“Keep your eyes peeled for more projects that bring creative, entertaining and educational experiences to VR,” it added.

Google certainly has big things up its sleeve for VR, then, but there’s no word on when we’ll see them. Hopefully, they will be ready for this year’s I/O conference in May, but it’s unlikely anything big will be announced before then.