The future of virtual Reality lies in the smartphone

The future of virtual Reality lies in the smartphone

Published on 31.08.2016

How does Virtual Reality work?

With the design of the virtual reality glasses “Rift”, the Facebook subsidiary Oculus VR launched a new virtual reality boom in 2012. But it was not Oculus that brought the first series-compatible glasses onto the market, but Samsung. At the end of 2015, the Koreans put their smartphone flagship Galaxy S6 in a plastic case with Oculus-licensed lens technology and thus simply used the entire smartphone as a display for the Oculus optics.

The “Gear VR” – named smartphone housing is currently the most successful VR hardware in the world. Samsung sold more than 200,000 glasses in Germany alone – significantly more than Oculus or HTC. Their devices cost over 700 euros, the users also need an approximately equally expensive high-end PC.

The Gear VR, on the other hand, costs 99 euros and does without cables. The user only needs a compatible smartphone. True, the VR experience is not yet comparable to that of the more expensive models, since graphics performance and sensors of smartphone glasses are not comparable. Nevertheless, Samsung can claim to have made the Oculus VR technology suitable for the masses.

The VR technology of Koreans has decisive advantages in everyday life. In addition to wireless interaction, the glasses can also be used on the go – the complete technology is integrated in the housing. “Currently, VR is mainly used for games, “comments Samsung’s German marketing director, Martin Börner, in an interview with”Welt”. “But we are already seeing that VR is being used much more widely in smartphones – for product demos in car dealerships or in tourism. Big gains in the market will come via 360-degree videos and photos on social networks.“

Optimized for use as a VR device

That’s why various manufacturers are currently working on further developing smartphone technology for VR as quickly as possible. Samsung already announced the successor to its “Gear VR”, which for the first time has internal storage space for VR content, at the Cologne game fair Gamescom at the beginning of August.

Samsung’s new Note 7 smartphone fits in the new glasses. It is the first smartphone specifically optimized in terms of graphics performance and screen for use as a VR device. Samsung showed how well this works with the VR car racing game “Need for Speed”. The graphics were as good in the smartphone as on a console.

The Internet giant Google is also currently investing heavily in VR for smartphones. For the latest version of Android 7.0 “Nougat”, the group integrates VR functions directly into the operating system. In the future, users will no longer have to download their own VR playback software to their smartphone. Instead, the VR content should come to the device via Google’s own playback platform Daydream. It is not only the software, but also a new standard for VR glasses cases in which compatible smartphones can be inserted.

Google could bring the breakthrough for mobile VR

On the occasion of the first presentation in June, smartphone manufacturers Samsung, Alcatel, Asus, HTC, LG, Xiaomi and ZTE announced compatible devices. Google could break the current dominance of Oculus technology in the market with its push, and establish Daydream as an open standard for mobile VR. To make this possible, Google is currently paying YouTube stars, artists, designers and programmers to create as much VR content as possible for the platform at the launch of Daydream.

With Daydream, Google could become the dominant provider in the mobile VR market, as the group masters a key technology that the competition has so far lacked. Although current mobile VR devices such as Samsung’s “Gear VR” can translate users ‘ head movements into the virtual world. But if the user moves his entire upper body and leans forward, the smartphone cannot measure this with its tilt sensor. The movement is not translated into VR graphics, the illusion breaks.

To capture the movements of the entire body, Oculus and HTC use external cameras on their wired glasses. However, this solution is not practical with the smartphone. One solution could be called “tango”. The technology developed by Google uses double cameras in the smartphone to measure and track its position in space. Should Google integrate Tango technology into its Daydream platform, the VR experience for the user would be almost equivalent to the much more expensive cable-based systems from Oculus and HTC. The technology could bring the breakthrough for mobile VR.

You can find even more visions of the future in the special edition of” Welt ” from 1 September and on our special pages on the “World of the Future”.

Learn more about virtual Reality in our interactive special.

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