The term virtual reality is bandied about a lot. But with the exception of a few bulky, expensive headsets, most VR devices just use your phone’s screen and processor — and they don’t let you do much more than passively watch 360-degree video.
Google’s Daydream View VR is different: It’s the first phone-based headset to let you do stuff. The gadget wirelessly syncs with the new Google Pixel smartphone (the only compatible device for now) to a Wii-like controller to create a virtual extension of your hand. Use it to move through Google Street View, swing a simulated baseball bat and interact with virtual worlds.
It won’t let you walk around a physical space and have your movements translated into VR — for that, you still need an expensive rig — but the Daydream will be of interest to folks like architects, 3-D designers and advertising tech firms keen on immersive experiences. And its soft fabric shell and light weight (about a half pound) keeps you comfortable through long trips into the Matrix. ($79; vr.google.com)