Imagine Google s VR Gadget Without The Cardboard. Google Does

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Google is reportedly planning to release a new VR headset made of a more rigid material than cardboard.

James Martin/CNET
Google's virtual reality ambitions leave cardboard behind.
The Web giant is planning to release a new VR headset later this year, the [ Financial Times] reported Sunday. A successor to Google's Cardboard VR viewer [ ], the new smartphone-based headset would sport improved sensors and lenses housed in a solid plastic casing.

The move would underscore the continuing maturation of VR, which promises to transport goggle-wearing users to digitally created 3D worlds. It's all the rage among big tech companies: Facebook is on the verge of releasing its long-awaited [/reviews/oculus-rift-review/ Oculus Rift] headset, while Sony, Samsung and HTC are also heavily invested in the technology.

Microsoft's [/reviews/microsoft-hololens-preview/ HoloLens], meanwhile, is aimed at augmented reality, which adds 3D computer-generated scenes to people's view of the real world. Apple has also reportedly assembled a secret research group focused on virtual and augmented reality.

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VR's potential extends well beyond the early emphasis on its use in video games, [ ] and [ ]. Backers say it could radically [ ], with ripple effects into how we communicate with one another.

Apple CEO Tim Cook last month summed up the fascination. "I don't think it's a niche," he said. "It's really cool. It has some interesting applications."