These days you’re not a VR company unless you have an annual developer’s conference. Samsung does it, Oculus does it, Facebook does it, and there’s no way that Google will be missing out.
This year’s Google I/O takes place May 18th – 20th at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. Fans will recall last year’s event in which the search engine giant revealed a new version of its Google Cardboard mobile HMD, and announced important initiatives such as Google Jump. With rumours of a new mobile device already rampant, you can be sure that this year’s show will be just as big.
But it’s not all about the announcements; there are also days of talks and sessions to look forward to. They won’t just be about VR of course, but there’s plenty to see on this front.
Opening Keynote – 18th May, 10am PST, Streamed
This is the one everyone will want to watch. Google will be offering a rare peek inside its work, providing updates on various areas of the company. CEO Sundar Pichai will be kicking things off, but don’t be surprised if VP of VR Clay Bavour takes the stage once more to offer updates on Cardboard and more. If the company really is planning to reveal an HMD this year, this would be the place to do it.
6 Degrees of Freedom Gaming in Android with Project Tango – 18th May, 1pm PST, Not Streamed
There are plenty of sessions at I/O that will focus on Project Tango, Google’s 3D mapping tech for smartphones, but this is the one that many will want to pay attention to. Here Developer Engineering Lead Eitan Marder-Eppstein is talking about how developers can use the project’s understanding of 3D motion for videogames. That could have a huge impact on VR in the future.
Make Shinier, Faster Mobile Games with Vulkan – 18th May, 6pm PST, Not Streamed
Khronos’ Vulkan API is the hot topic in 3D visuals for mobile software right now, especially following its impressive demonstration at this year’s Samsung Unpacked press conference at Mobile World Congress. And if it raises the bar for standard mobile apps then it does the same for VR apps too, from Gear VR and Google Cardboard to any other mobile device. This session, delivered by Google’s Hai Nguyen, is not to be missed.
VR at Google – 19th May, 9am PST, Streamed
“What we have built, what we have learned, and where we are headed.” That’s all the description for this highly anticipated session teases. Google’s VP of VR Clay Bavour will be taking the stage, hopefully no longer tight lipped about whatever he and his team have been working on for the past year. Aside from that rumoured new mobile device, we’re hoping to get updates on Google Jump and much more.
VR & Cinema – 19th May, 2pm PST, Not Streamed
Google is covering all of its bases when it comes to VR. Project Tango and the Vulkan API might mean big things for VR gaming, but the company is also working hard in the VR movies sector. To that end, Principal Filmmaker for VR Jessica Brillhart will be looking at the landscape of cinematic VR in this talk, discussing both her own experiences and sharing stories from other VR filmmakers. Brillhart also directed World Tour, the first VR movie made with Google Jump, so expect plenty of insights from her.
Live Coding: Make a Virtual Reality Game – 20th May, 4pm, Not Streamed
There isn’t much in the way of VR on I/O’s final day, but the one session scheduled promises to be special. Google’s Shanee Nishry will be taking the stage to use the Unity Cardboard SDK to create a VR game before everyone’s eyes. The session promises to produce a “defend the castle” game in which players control a cannon and fend off waves of enemies. Areas of development will include stereoscopic rendering, input, the Cardboard Reticle and real-time binaural audio. Not to be missed for VR devs.