At Google’s Pixel event today, the company announced its new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones, a new Daydream View headset, the Snapchat-enabled Pixelbook and a new AI-driven fixed-frame camera, among other announcements.
Most relevant to the world of VR and AR are its new smartphones, which are optimized for improved AR performance, and its updated Daydream View headset.
Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
Of course, we could drone on about the new Pixel devices’ specs, its 5-inch AMOLED screen (1,920 x 1,080) or the XL’s 6-inch QHD+ pOLED display (2,880 x 1,440), the devices’ lack of a headphone jack, its music-spotting features, or their Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 paired with 4GB RAM and either 64 or 128GB of storage. But instead, we’ll focus on the devices’ optimized AR capabilities.
The Pixel 2’s cameras have been optimized and calibrated for AR. According to Google, the upgraded cameras offer robust tracking, even in low light conditions, and 60 fps rendering of AR objects.
oogle’s event today saw the unveiling of its newest smartphones, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. According to the company, the Pixel 2 camera has been “factory calibrated and optimized for AR.”
Google says its specially calibrated Pixel 2 camera enables robust tracking, even in low-light conditions, allowing the phone to track the environment and render AR objects at 60 frames per second (FPS). The iPhone 8, unveiled last month, was also calibrated for more accurate motion tracking at 60 fps.
Upon the launch of the phones, Pixel users will immediately be able to take advantage of the device’s AR performance by adding augmented stickers onto photos and videos directly within the phone’s camera app. For example, you’ll be able to add balloons to your birthday video or dancing burgers on top of your grill.
Google will also be releasing new AR sticker packs in the future to match seasons, holidays and pop culture events, from Star Wars to Saturday Night Live. Although Google said this feature would be exclusive to Pixel devices, the company didn’t say if existing Pixel devices would gain access to the feature.
There will also be AR apps, including one from Houzz to decorate your home without leaving your couch and another giving you a map overview of a League of Legends match.
The Pixel 2 is currently available for pre-order for $649 in three colors (Kinda Blue, Just Black and Clearly White) and launches October 19. The Pixel 2 XL comes in Just Black or Black and White, can be pre-ordered now for $849 and launches November 15.
2017 Daydream View
When it comes to putting your new Pixel device–or one of 15 Daydream compatible devices–into a headset, the new Daydream View offers a couple of improvement over the previous version.
Called only the new Daydream View, the 2017 version of the headset features improved custom-designed Fresnel lenses, offering a 10-degree wider field of view (now comparable to the Samsung Gear), improved ergonomic features, and a heat sink for longer VR use.
The headset has the same NFC chip to automatically detect your phone when you place it in the headset and launch VR mode, and the same capacitive bumpers for better orientation. But the 2017 Daydream View’s ne heat sink feature is also pretty cool.
Essentially, the device now has a built-in heat sink in the front flap that cools your phone as you use it. According to Google, phones can actually run faster while in the headset due to the improved heat dissipation.
Ergonomically, Google has added a (removeable) top strap to the headset for better weight distribution and made the foam of the facial interface larger and softer.
The controller appears to be identical to the previous version, but now stores away in the headset rather than the front cover.
The new Daydream View will cost $99, $20 more than the previous model, and will be compatible with all 15 existing Daydream-compatible devices. Pre-orders for the headsets, which come in Charcoal, Fog and Coral, open today and shipping will begin October 19. Anyone who buys the headset before the end of the year (in the U.S., U.K. and Korea) will also get a free bundle of games.
Although Google mentioned its plans for a standalone VR headset earlier this year–no phone or computer required–they didn’t release any further information about the headset at today’s even.