According to a new report from The Information, behind closed doors Google is much more interested in augmented reality than it is in virtual reality. Google of course has publicly marketed its Cardboard VR product heavily, but that’s apparently not the end-goal for the company — augmented reality is.
Google has recently formed a new virtual reality unit within the company headed by Clay Bavor. Within this group, however, it’s reportedly common knowledge that the augmented, or “mixed,” reality has a much bigger market in the long run. This market would center around digital information and images being overlaid next to a real-world view. Think products like Glass or HoloLens.
Google reportedly doesn’t believe that in the public eye, people will be willing to invest in virtual reality solutions that force them to wear massive headsets, such as the Oculus headset or Gear VR. The company thinks that there’s a much bigger profit opportunity in the long run in augmented reality versus virtual reality.
Google of course has its augmented reality Project Tango initiative and earlier this year announced the first consumer-ready device in partnership with Lenovo. While unveiling the device, Lenovo and Google showed off how they could instantly map out the stage and reconfigure it with furniture such as a couch and a refrigerator. Project Tango uses real-time mapping technology paired with a complex setup of cameras and sensors to map the 3D space around users in real-time.
Personally, I happen to agree with Google on this one. I’m not a huge fan of virtual reality products, but something like Project Tango offers incredibly useful real-world applications that could push it towards mainstream popularity. I wrote on 9to5Mac earlier this year that Apple should focus primarily on augmented reality as opposed to virtual reality for this very same reason.
What do you think? Should Google focus more on augmented reality or Oculus-like virtual reality products?