Google will not only use its Oct. 4 hardware event to unveil two new flagship phones, but the company is also going to introduce its first-ever Daydream virtual reality headset, Variety has learned from multiple sources. The device, which is meant to be used in conjunction with either of the two new phones, could be sold for as little as $79, according to a source with knowledge of the announcement.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment.
Google first announced Daydream as a mobile VR platform during its Google I/O developer conference in May. Daydream is essentially a VR extension of Google’s mobile operating system Android: Daydream-optimized phones automatically switch into VR mode when inserted into a Daydream headset, much in the same way that Samsung’s Gear VR headset works with select Samsung phones.
Just like the Gear VR, Daydream headsets are going to use the phone as a display. However, unlike Samsung’s mobile headset, Daydream won’t use a touch pad for navigation. Instead, it is being shipped with a handheld controller that works a bit like a Wii remote, capable of tracking motion and to be used for both navigation and game play in VR experiences.
Google has teamed up with a number of companies to build Daydream-ready phones as well as Daydream headsets. The two phones Google is set to unveil this week, dubbed Pixel and Pixel XL, according to numerous leaks, are both being manufactured by HTC. The Taiwanese consumer electronics manufacturer may also be building the first headset that Google is set to unveil Tuesday, Variety has learned.
Google’s introduction of Daydream comes just in time for the holiday shopping season, which will mark the first time that consumers will be able to pick up VR headsets from a variety of different companies. Both Oculus and HTC started to ship their high-end VR headsets earlier this year, and the devices from both companies come with a premium price tag of $600 to $800, which doesn’t even include the high-end gaming PC necessary to run VR apps. Sony’s PlayStation VR, which starts to ship next week, will sell for $399 and work with existing PlayStation 4 game consoles.
Mobile VR headsets like Gear VR and Daydream lack the positional tracking of higher-end devices, but could attract consumes with significantly cheaper price tags.
Samsung is selling its Gear VR for $99, and Google seems to be willing to go even lower: The company is apparently aiming for a $79 price tag for its first Daydream headset, which could ship as early as later this month. However, hardware launch details, including pricing and retail channels, can change last minute, so we won’t know for sure until Google makes the official announcement on Tuesday morning.