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VR tech: A day for a Daydream

Virtual-reality enthusiasts are hanging a lot of hopes onGoogle Inc.’sAndroid-based Daydream VR platform.

Speaking on a panel at this week’s Holographic Summit inLondon, Alexander Cohen, founder and CEO of U.K.-basedVR retail store Virtually Reality, said Daydream would bring much-needed VRfunctionality and high-fidelity experiences to smartphones.

Crucially, Daydream reflects a in VR thatcapitalizes on the increasing amount of time consumers spend on mobile devices.Google first showcasedits VR platform at the Google I/O annual developer conference in May. Theinternet giant’s platform reportedly pairs with an upcoming headset andcontroller set to launch this fall.

Recent data suggest the prospects for delivering premium VRcontent on mobile screens at a lower price point do seem strong. According tographics chip company Nvidia, less than 1% of PCs in use in 2016 are powerfulenough to run the best VR graphics. In fact, Palmer Luckey, co-founder ofFacebook’s Oculus,considered a pioneer in the sector, said that even 's top of the range “$6,000 MacPro with the top of the line AMD FirePro D700” do not match the recommendedspecs of the Oculus Rift headset.

Adding to the cost of a high-performance PC is a high-endheadset like HTC's Vive or the Oculus Rift, which sell at a retail price of$799 and $599, respectively.

Albert Millis, managing director at VR marketing agencyVirtual Umbrella, told the audience that Google’s move also creates a window ofopportunity for developers to optimize their content for lower-powered mobiledevices.

Google has reportedly partnered with video game producers,sports leagues and YouTube stars in its attempts to aggregate content for itsVR initiative.

The obvious question is whether the performance, batterylife and visual quality of today’s smartphones will be able to keep up with thefast-evolving VR technology.

Kevin Molloy, head of production at Inception VR, a providerof VR entertainment content, noted that very few high-end smartphones todaysupport basic VR functionality.

“If you want to move beyond a linear video, you’re going tohave to get an awful lot more power into these devices quickly,” Molloy told theaudience.

Google’s VR hub hopes to solve for this problem, as itrecently rolled out an update to Android software to support Daydream. It couldalso launch new HTC-built smartphones featuring Daydream in October.

With established tech companies such as Google, Facebook andSamsung throwingtheir weight behind VR, the sector seems poised for rapid growth. Research andMarkets recently estimated that the global VR is expected to grow at a CAGR ofroughly 56.7% over the next 10 years to reach approximately $122.5 billion by2025.

As consumers increasingly are attached to their mobilephones, the company that ends up controlling the smartphone VR market could endup taking the lion’s share of the business.