Today at an event in San Francisco, Google revealed the second version of their Daydream View VR headset which makes comfort improvements across the board, including new, custom lenses with a wider field of view. Interestingly, this passive device even makes your phone run faster for VR.
Although Daydream View is a passive device, from the beginning, Google has smartly designed it to do more than just hold your phone. The original device included an NFC chip to automatically detect your phone and launch it into VR mode when you put your phone inside. Capacitive bumpers on the headset allowed the phone to understand its orientation more precisely in relation to the lenses, and align the on screen display to match.
Google is continuing its approach to smart, passive design in the new Daydream View headset (FYI they aren’t calling it the Daydream View 2). The new version includes the same NFC chip and capacitive bumpers, but this time there’s a heat sink built into the front flap of the headset which passively cools the phone while it’s in use. What’s particularly cool is that, according to Google, phones actually run faster in the headset than outside of it, thanks to the bolstered heat dissipation. That means the phone can maintain peak VR performance for longer, offering a better, and longer experience overall. Google says that users will no longer have their VR sessions cut short by overheating issues.
On top of the heat sink which brings phones better performance, the 2017 Daydream View bumps the field of view by around 10 degrees thanks to new, custom designed Fresnel lenses. The lenses are notably larger when you actually see them inside the headset, and the view is clearly larger—now closer to what Gear VR offers—than the original Daydream View, which had a rather cramped field of view. Google says they used the immense power of their datacenters to simulate quadrillions of rays passing through various lens designs to find the ideal design.
It’s visually subtle, but the design has also seen a complete overhaul, specifically aimed at comfort. First and most obvious: Google has added a top strap to the headset to help better distribute the headset’s weight (it’s also easily removable for people who don’t want it). The facial interface (the foam the rests against your face) has also been made larger and softer. On the original, I found that the foam could create uncomfortable pressure points on my cheeks after long term use; Google says the new facial interface should solve that problem. They also say they’ve had hundreds of differently gendered people test the headset to ensure its fit across a wide swath of head shapes and sizes.
The 2017 Daydream View controller is, as far as we can tell, identical to the first. Now it stores away in a loop on the head strap, rather than inside the front cover.
The new Daydream View will be compatible with the same Daydream ready phones as the original (of which Google says there are now 15). It will be available for $100 ($20 more than the original) later this year.