Google’s virtual reality announcement Wednesday at Google I/O was a big deal.
But that might not be readily apparent to those still getting their feet wet in VR, so Google made a video to help you get a better idea of what WorldSense does.
Current mobile VR headsets like the Samsung Gear VR and Daydream View have 3DoF (three degrees of freedom), only allowing you to look around in VR from a fixed point (as if your head is on a tripod in the middle of a panoramic bubble). In that dynamic, you can’t get a truly immersive sense that you’re in another environment.
To get to 6DoF, where you can move more freely and have your head positionally tracked in three dimensions, beyond mere rotational movement, most people use higher-end VR devices like the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. Both of those devices are tethered to powerful computers and work in conjunction with external sensors for tracking (Lighthouse and Constellation, respectively).
What Google’s WorldSense does is bring 6DoF to mobile, untethered VR headsets using inside-out tracking. A more detailed explainer on how this works was posted online last year by Google’s WorldSense development partner Qualcomm.
And while bringing 6DoF tracking to mobile, tetherless VR headsets won’t replace the Vive or Oculus in terms of quality of experience, it is a major step closer to getting us to that point.
Google’s video is short and not at all technical, but it does demonstrate how important 6DoF inside-out tracking is when it comes to truly immersive VR. The girl shown dodging virtual objects in preparation for a real game of dodge ball can’t do what she’s doing using current mobile VR headsets.
Whether or not WorldSense will be a game changer in terms of boosting mobile VR remains to be seen, but with partners like HTC and Lenovo, and Google’s Daydream platform, mobile VR content is set to become a great deal more immersive, and perhaps even addictive.