Google details Daydream VR hardware requirements

Google's Daydream View virtual reality goggles are now available at Google's store. That's well and good for owners of Google's new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, but how about devices from other manufacturers? The latest compatibility document for Android specifies what a phone needs in order to be compatible with Google's latest foray into VR.

Starting with the display, Daydream-compatible phones need a screen with a diagonal larger than 4.7" but smaller than 6". That screen needs to update at 60Hz. In addition to having response time under 3 ms, the display also needs a low-persistence-mode in which pixels emit light for less than 5 ms. Google says that 1080p screens are okay, but recommends that manufacturers use 1440p resolutions or higher.

The compatibility document doesn't list specific chips, but the SoC inside a Daydream-compatible phone must have at least two physical cores capable of simultaneously decoding two instances of 60 FPS video. Additionally, the device must support OpenGL ES 3.2, Vulkan, and Bluetooth 4.2. The phone should also have a full fleet of sensors, including one to monitor the surface temperature of the device in addition to the expected gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer sensors.

Finally, Daydream VR requires Android Nougat. This requirement alone will delay compatibility for devices that might otherwise meet these specifications, as carriers aren't always that quick to roll out Android updates. However, despite receiving the Android 7.0 update, the Nexus 6P apparently isn't compatible with Daydream VR. Google posted instructions for turning the 6P into a Daydream development kit, but noted that the phone quickly gets too hot to run VR apps. There's a possibility that other phones with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 SoC will likewise suffer from thermal throttling under the same circumstances.

Few smartphone manufacturers have made announcements about Daydream VR compatibility. Months ago, ZTE announced that its Axon 7 phone is compatible, and rumors are swirling about LG's V20 smartphone. For the moment, however, users interested in Daydream are going to have look primarily at Google's new Pixel phones.

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