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Google might be gearing up to challenge Samsung and Oculus with VR hardware

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With a few fully featured virtual reality headsets coming out in the first half of 2016, it looks as if Google may be getting ready to move beyond its cardboard, DIY approach. The company has posted numerous job listings, first reported by Road to VR today, indicating its interest in developing its own VR hardware. Of all the job listings related to VR, a handful include titles like "Hardware Engineer, VR Camera Systems" and "Electrical Hardware Engineer."

"Our consumer hardware team is working on revolutionizing how people interact with their hardware, and looking for engineers to make that a reality," reads one listing for a "Hardware Engineering Technical Lead Manager." Google originally listed some of the more hardware-focused jobs as specific to virtual reality, but it has since replaced the phrase with consumer hardware, as Engadget pointed out. The wording of in the individual listings remains purposefully vague. "We want to open new ways to interact with devices and create a natural, seamless interface the world’s information," the company wrote.

"We want to open up new ways to interact with devices."

It makes sense for Google to get serious about VR hardware. The company this month put Clay Bavor, its vice president for product management, in charge of a newly created VR division. Bavor was previously responsible for Cardboard, Google's platform for low-cost, smartphone-powered headsets, and he now has YouTube alum Jason Toff working under him on VR. Toff confirmed yesterday he was leaving Vine amid a slew of high-level Twitter executive departures.

The company doesn't appear to be abandoning Cardboard any time soon; it's been a crucial part of Google's push to get VR into classrooms and bring more 360-degree VR video to YouTube. However, Google may be interested in building on Cardboard to create a more advanced headset, similar to what Samsung and Oculus offer with the Galaxy-powered Gear VR.

Verge Video: Google's big jump into VR