Google Quietly Reveals Huawei Making First Third-Party Daydream Headset

Google revealed during the chaos of CES 2017 the next Daydream-ready HMD. The device is made by Huawei and, surprisingly, it has more in common with Samsung’s Gear VR than it does with Google’s Daydream View headset.

The Daydream VR platform was revealed in May 2016. Google’s approach towards premium mobile VR mirrored the openness of the company’s Android mobile platform: Daydream isn’t a specific piece of hardware; it’s a reference platform for other Android handset makers to build upon.

Google laid out a set of hardware specifications necessary for Daydream-ready hardware and showed off its reference VR HMD, Daydream View, during the presentation in May, but Google was clear that other smartphone makers were free to built custom HMDs.

The company wasn’t specific about the headset design requirements, but I suspected the term “reference” meant handset makers would have to adhere to strict design requirements. Google made it clear that the lightweight, washable materials were deliberate choices for the Daydream View headset, which lead me to believe that all Daydream headsets would fit that mold.

Evidently, Google’s definition of "reference" is rather loose. We don’t know much about the headset yet, but the image that Google released says a lot about the device. At first glance, Huawei’s Daydream headset looks like a Gear VR headset. It features a hard plastic shell and a mechanical mounting mechanism for the phone. Like the Gear VR, Huawei’s headset appears to have been designed for use with a specific phone, which in Huawei’s case is the Mate 9 Daydream-ready smartphone.

Huawei’s Daydream headset includes a top-mounted dial that lets you adjust the lens focus, just like the Gear VR, and the similarities don't stop there. The headset also includes a leather strap with Velcro adjustment points and two extra loops to add an overhead strap. The image of the headset provided by Google only shows the front of the HMD, so we can’t tell if the foam is removable in the same way as the Gear VR, but the foam cushion sits on a raised, contoured surface. On the Gear VR, this section is made from semi-soft rubber to help fit different size faces. We can’t confirm, but it appears that Huawei’s headset also has a rubber face.

Huawei stuck to the reference design for one part of its Daydream setup, though. The image appears to show the same controller that you get with Google’s Daydream View, but in white to match Huawei’s headset.  

Google didn’t say when Huawei’s Daydream headset would hit the market, and Huawei was oddly quiet about the device during its announcements at CES 2017. The smartphone maker didn’t mention the headset at all during the show. We’ll just have to wait for a “later date” for more information.

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