There were some pretty huge and surprising AR, VR and IA announcements at this week’s Google I/O 2017 Developer Conference. You can watch the whole keynote above, but here are some important highlights.
Standalone VR headsets
There has been a lot of talk this year about standalone VR headsets and we knew most of the major headset manufacturers were working on them. The Qualcomm Snapdragon VR SDK was a big sign of where things were going. We also received a lot of intel this week that Google would be releasing one at I /O, so we were excited to learn that it was true!
One of the big announcements was that HTC VIVE and Lenovo have partnered with Google to release Daydream powered standalone VR headsets built on Android, and will be available later this year. At the same time, VIVE released a teaser for the new headset on their blog. This was a smart and logical step for VIVE to differentiate themselves from Oculus / Facebook and take advantage of all the AI and AR capabilities that Google offers.
The new headsets will not require a PC or a mobile phone to work, and will feature an inside-out positional tracking system that the company is calling ‘WorldSense’, which “dramatically” improves tracking over previous Daydream devices. The video below gives us a teaser of how WorldSense will work.
360° Videos Now On Smart TV
Starting today, 360° videos can be accessed through the YouTube app on your smart TV, allowing you to pan around using your remote. Live 360° will soon be available, which may add some leverage to 360 concerts or sporting events and might serve as a better platform for HD 360 development and content consumption.
Daydream for Galaxy S8
The Samsung Galaxy S8 will support Google Daydream by this summer via a software update. LG’s next flagship phone (no name yet) will also support Daydream.
New Tango Phones with VPS Tracking
A very exciting new service called VPS (Visual Positioning Service) was announced as part of the Tango platform, which is supposed to precisely map the world around you using a ‘GPS-like’ turn-by-turn navigational experience while indoors.
As an example, Clay Bavor described the use case of looking for a specific screwdriver at a Lowe’s. Holding up a VPS-enabled phone inside the store showed how the system knew exactly where you are based on new and old data, “within a few centimeters”, and could direct you to exactly what you were looking for, kind of like an item based GPS navigation.
Google Lens is a vision-based AI platform that allows your phone to understand what is going on in a photo, video or live feed. Simply scan a photo or point the camera at an item such as a flower or restaurant, and the AI returns contextual information. As an example, Scott Huffman, VP of Engineering on Google Assistant, took a photo of a sign outside a restaurant in Japan. They system, translated the text into English to describe that it was a certain menu item and price, then provided a secondary search to show photos of the food.
The Google Lens app will be coming out later this year.
So, to summarize, standalone VR headsets will be out very soon and indoor, item based and visual based SEO connected to artificial intelligence is going to be HUGE! When all of these are combined, it will make for one very powerful, intelligent, immersive Google / Android based platform with lots of monetization opportunities and very little competition.
The “circle” is closing!
There is a lot more to come at I/O 2017 this week, so we will keep you updated.
Sean Earley is the Executive Editor of AR/VR Magazine & co-founder of RobotSpaceship Podcast Network. He is the Director of New Biz Development and Publishing at KEMWEB, a musician, producer & consultant. He loves guitars, VR and coffee.