Following Valve’s SteamVR announcement at the Game Developer Conference, alongside the reveal of the HTC Re Vive VR at Mobile World Congress, Google apparently wants to get in on the virtual reality hype with its own platform, Android VR.
The VR platform would fit into Google’s growing line of ‘Android’ sub-platforms, already consisting of Android Auto, TV, and Wear. This means Android developers already on the platform can make apps specifically for VR users.
It would also allow multiple manufacturers to work on the open platform, allowing them to tap into an already huge Android user-base of over 1 billion people.
Google has already tried to enter the VR market through its Cardboard project, allowing anyone to make a virtual reality headset for $35. A smartphone was necessary to complete the process, but with Android VR users will not need a smartphone to power the headset, in most cases.
The company does have past experience when it comes to augmented reality through Google Glass, but it has not yet made a platform capable of offering virtual games and experiences.
Google does not need to do much to make the Android VR platform a reality, but will most likely offer various APIs to make the VR experience less sickly. Some users have complained the Oculus creates motion sickness after a while, but Valve’s new platform claims to have fixed that with base stations and body tracking.
Virtual reality could be a huge untapped market, or it could flop similar to Microsoft’s Kinect.
Considering Facebook has invested billions into Oculus and Valve has spent a year and a half on its VR platform, these companies are confident the VR market will be explosive once headsets go on the market.
Hopefully Google’s own platform is not a half-baked attempt at trying to compete with the big players, like Google+ was to Facebook’s social network.