Google VR/AR Boss Confirms Commitment: ‘We’re Making Investments For The Long Term’

by Ian Hamilton • May 21st, 2018

The Mirage Solo standalone headset powered by Google’s WorldSense tracking technology launched just days before the Google I/O developer conference, and yet a long keynote event came and went without mention of VR.

The $400 VR headset from Lenovo is the “first” Daydream standalone, but despite Google using that word to describe Mirage Solo no manufacturers have publicly committed to building a second one. The hardware is a big step up technically compared with Oculus Go, and it can run the entire Google Play catalog, but Lenovo’s Mirage Solo is unlikely to convince the masses that VR is a must buy. With no new information about either internal products like Daydream View or partner products like Mirage Solo — it makes sense that some developers and early adopters might be wondering if Google is still committed to VR.

“We haven’t confirmed anything else in the making,” said Google’s head of VR and AR, Clay Bavor, in an interview at Google I/O. “I am an emphatic believer in the long term promise of VR, AR and all things as I call them ‘Immersive Computing.’ It is very clearly to me and to us more broadly at Google part of the next phase of computing — computing that makes use of our environment, that vastly increases the richness of input and output — that’s going to be important. That’s going to be a big deal. And we’re making investments for the long term.”

Over the last decade Google has partnered with other companies to enable a variety of initiatives centered around its Android operating system. In recent years, though, Google started to launch its own products while bringing more work in house. For example, the tech giant recently acquired teams from HTC that worked on its Pixel phone. Was VR overlooked at I/O because Google is shifting focus to developing VR and AR products internally?

“We think VR and AR are going to be a big space,” Bavor said. “There’s room and there are roles for both Google devices and also for working with partners.”

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