It looks like Google Cardboard is just the beginning of the company's virtual reality push. A new report from The Financial Times indicates that Google is planning to release a more substantial virtual reality product akin to Samsung's Gear VR.
In addition to a new plastic casing, it's said that the headset will support a far wider range of smartphones than the Gear VR. Sources also tell the paper that it will feature "better sensors" and "lenses," suggesting that it won't be wholly reliant on the equipment built into your smartphone. The report mentions that "most of its processing power" would come from the smartphone. Google Cardboard, which has been around for over a year and a half, provides two plastic lenses and just holds your smartphone in the right position to function as a VR device.
We might hear a lot more at Google I/O in May
Google's annual developer conference, I/O, would be a natural place for the company to unveil the new hardware. According to The Financial Times, the hardware could be another Nexus-style product designed to set a target and lay the template for Google's hardware partners. The hardware itself could arrive in September, it's reported.
The new hardware could also come alongside Google's rumored Android VR operating system. Today's report provides new details on the system, of which we've heard little since The Wall Street Journal revealed early last year that the software was in the works. It sounds like Android VR will bring virtual reality-compatibility to the core of the extraordinarily popular operating system. If that is the case, developers would be able to easily write apps for virtual reality. Google Cardboard, by contrast, uses a self-contained app, and virtual reality only works from within it.
Google's expanded VR push was rumored just last month after the company posted job listings for new positions involved in virtual reality. There's still much that's unknown about this new headset, and Android VR in particular. One open question is whether it will integrate with Project Tango, which can scan and track real-life environments. It could be a perfect pair for Google's VR push.