Pressed by Oculus, Google opens a division dedicated to virtual reality

by bold-lichterman

Google is stepping up a gear in virtual reality. The American group is currently forming a division entirely dedicated to this new sector, report Re / code. Little information is yet available on the size of this new branch and the resources that will be allocated to it. Google is expected to say more at its next I / O conference.

Clay Bavor at the head of the project

In any case, Clay Bavor, previously vice-president in charge of product development, was chosen to take the lead of this new entity. Since joining Google in 2005, it has notably worked on Gmail or Google Docs, but also supported Cardboard, one of the Mountain View firm’s projects in the field of virtual reality (VR).

So far, Google’s VR initiatives have been pretty low key. For example, the company presented Cardboard, a cardboard helmet in which you can slide a smartphone in order to get a first virtual reality experience.

For example, a partnership has been signed with the New York Times which offers its readers, via a dedicated application, an immersive experience in several places around the world. On the dedicated site include several “stories” such as the possibility of strolling in New York with a scrolling of the image at 360 degrees according to the user’s choice. Other projects are closer to branded content, such as the Mini or Lufthansa car brand, which also offers “experiences”.

Confront Oculus, HTC …

Beyond virtual reality, Google is also very interested in augmented reality and has invested in the start-up Magic Leap. Very secret, some videos published on YouTube by the company allow to get an idea: images superimposed on a real vision allow to play games or to access entertaining content [lire notre article : Réalité augmentée: mais qui est Magic Leap, l’entreprise secrète qui séduit les géants de la Tech?, ndlr].

In all cases, these initiatives aim to position Google against players like Oculus, the company bought by Facebook, or HoloLens (augmented reality, not virtual). In addition, other players are also interested, such as the Taïwainas HTC which recently presented Vive Pre, a headset which will be marketed in the coming months.

But beyond the large groups, it is also the start-ups that innovate in the sector, whether in terms of headsets, software solutions or even services. According to a study by CB Insights, 658 million dollars, spread over 126 operations, were invested in virtual reality and augmented reality start-ups in 2015.