Report: Android OS coming to virtual reality headsets

Google has reportedly hired a team to build a version of the Android operating system for virtual reality headsets, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Vice president of product management Clay Bavor and engineering director Jeremy Doig are leading the VR team, which includes “tens of engineers,” according to the WSJ report. Like Android for mobile phones, the VR version will be available for any virtual reality company to integrate into its headset.

David Coz and Boris Smus demonstrate Cardboard at Google I/O.

David Coz and Boris Smus demonstrate Cardboard at Google I/O.

Bavor helped create Google Cardboard, a stripped down virtual reality headset actually made from cardboard. VR goggles can actually be made from very inexpensive components — in the case of Cardboard, just two lenses and a cardboard case that straps in a mobile phone. The phone itself, which presents two nearly identical images on a split screen to give the impression of a 3D virtual world when viewed through the lenses, does most of the work.

At last year’s Google I/O developers conference, Google actually showed off several applications created specifically for virtual reality. Besides apps for Cardboard, there was also a short film drawn by former Disney animator Glen Keane. Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects team converted the “Duet” drawings to a 360 degree film that could be viewed on phones.

While everyone has been busy racing to build the best virtual reality headset, a leading operating system has yet to emerge. It’s currently a fragmented space that feels secondary to creating games and other content. Google is obviously in a good place to develop a respectable option.