Nod Labs Brings VR to Smartphones Through Project Goa

Virtual Reality Coming to Smartphones via Project Goa

Even as technophiles and gamers are glad about virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Gear VR. All these devices fall into two groups: either high-end gaming that usually relies on expensive hardware or casual, low-quality experiences on smartphones.

Project Goa: What to Know About Google’s Newest Offer

Goa, spear-headed by Google veteran Anush Elangovan, desires to bring high-quality virtual reality for the regular consumer by making the smartphone-based experience more enjoyable. Nod Labs, the gesture recognition and motion tracking hardware startup behind Project Goa, expects to take advantage of the zeal around VR to get bigger beyond gaming into applications like museums, real estate, medicine, and tourism.

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Goa is a self-sufficient system that does not need mounted cameras or cables. The console happens to be a central base station with a trailing camera and a processor to wirelessly support your smartphone. There will be two wireless controllers separate from the station to give hand tracking and freedom of movement, just like the HTC’s Vive’s controllers. Your smartphone sits into a slot on a visor, which then connects to your desired headset.

The console permits complete movement up to nine feet and can be used with your smartphone, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, or Gear VR.

“Goa is meant to bring the virtual reality experience to anyone who has a smartphone,” declares Elangovan, the CEO of Nod. “You can leave the station on a coffee table and a family could sit around it.”

For now, Nod will not make a proprietary headset—that market is very saturated, particularly since Google declared the reference design for their Daydream VR platform.




Despite the fact that the company is not big, Nod’s engineering team boasts members that know the ins and outs of the industry. On the team are Steven LaValle, the former chief scientist of Oculus, and Christian Plagemann, the former co-founder of the virtual reality team at Google who is now serving as the team’s adviser. Instead of being disturbed about Oculus or Google, Elangovan is laying a bet that its spotlight on human and machine interactions and practical applications, instead of hardcore gaming or immersive cinema, will boost Goa. It also does not harm that Nod can shift swiftly as a company that is not big and does not have red tape to cross.

Obstacles Faced by Project Goa

However, as with all of these recently commenced virtual reality systems, Project Goa is confronted with concerns of shortage of content particularly intended for their experience.

“On the technology side, we haven’t gotten to the point where we know the equivalent of 24 frames per second,” shares Elangovan, comparing with the cinematography standard. “There’s not a standard that you can build on top of—in VR right now, there are 360-degree videos on one end, and intense gameplay on the other. That nexus hasn’t been defined or understood yet.”


At present, the Nod group is partnering with immersive experience manufacturers that are on a par with Vive’s Tilt Brush and Monument Valley, and defense and CAD software companies have asked them to work together. Proton Pulse and other older games and Cardboard-specific apps that supported Nod’s gesture-based device, the Nod Ring, are expected to work without human intervention.

Depth cameras, vision tracking, and smartphone hardware also have a long way to go before the technology can effectively sustain huge interactive programs. Smartphones, to be specific, will have to be able to support 60 frames per second and decrease latency. Though, this too, Elangovan presumes, shall come to pass.

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