Daydream Cool

The short lived Daydream platform actually had some standout titles and lots of interesting experimental stuff including early Chrome and Firefox VR integration, YouTube integration, Google photos, WebVR, etc. I could even attach a usb keyboard using usb-to-go for touch typing with my headset on

Daydream View headset (Google manual)
Amazing WebVR experience from Chemical Brothers featuring St. Vincent
Daydream remote (Google manual)
Tracking test using Daydream remote

Going from PCVR with the Vive I assumed 3DoF headset and the simple tracking remote would be crippling but was surprised to find how performant it actually was, with well designed applications really leveraging it’s limitations. Tracking was very robust and hard to break demonstrating Google’s secret software sauce at work.

Standout Daydream title “Eclipse Edge of Light” thankfully was published later on PCVR through SteamVR, it didn’t die with Daydream

Some of the walking simulators like Eclipse Edge of Light and Dreadhalls provided a strong sense of presence for those with robust stomachs… whilst Google’s funding helped developer Tender Claws to create the stunning “Virtual Virtual Reality”.

Virtual Virtual Reality
Google Spotlight Stories, very impressive work
YouTube VR integration provided hours of content
Daydream Audio Factory

However Daydream had a couple of flaws, notably causing the phone (in my case Pixel XL) to quickly overheat and shut down. It was also uncomfortable and tended to move around due to the single fabric headstrap.

There were many articles on cooling Daydream; some suggesting aluminium foil, some using ice packs

  Time to get to work…

Facial gasket

This was modified to fit my face by cutting away the original gasket and retrofitting an aftermarket Vive cushion using industrial strength velcro.

This resulted in a super comfortable fit by increasing the surface area whilst presenting a more compatible shape. The entire gasket could be still removed for cleaning, though the polyurethane (Pu) Vive cushion was easy to wipe clean without removal.

Head strap

Looking down would cause the headset to lift away from my face, as Daydream came with just a simple horizontal strap with plastic buckle adjuster. Quickly moving left or right caused the headset to move about, tightening the strap helped a little but then pulled the cushion too tight against the face. It was time for an additional strap!

Couple of different straps were tried, to find the right shape and style that was easily adjusted but comfortable. It needed to be elasticated but firm enough to grip the head firmly, and easy to adjust whilst on your head; finally thin enough to allow use of audio headphones.

Trying straps with sennheiser headphones

Cooling

The trickiest challenge was cooling the phone; unfortunately Daydream used a smartphone firmly clamped in a thermal sandwich of plastic and fabric faceplate. Thankfully the Pixel XL had an aluminium alloy body which I could exploit.

Workshop time!
Thermal plate being cut and finished
Thermal coupling plate bonded to smartphone cover
Copper cold plate mounted in modified phone case. NFC strip poached from Daydream front panel to ensure compatibility
Passive cooling using finned aluminium alloy heatsink thermally coupled to the copper cold plate touching the phone body.
Pixel XL in front case, NFC strip in case automatically launching Daydream mode when phone clipped into case
Faux leather wrap used for flexible hinge
Testing Daydream Cool to determine increase in performance (no thermal throttling), increased battery life (3 hours) and facial comfort from improved gasket, reduced heat in eyebox and headset stability from additional strap

Overview

Fabric support for face gasket
Finned aluminium alloy heat sink
Additional head strap for stability and comfort
Substantial increase in performance and comfort

Daydream 2017

Old and new, Daydream Cool and Daydream 2017 headsets
Daydream 2017: increased comfort, better cooling, Fresnel lenses with increased field of view and clarity at expense of God rays in media experiences. Cooling was better than the original headset but still hotter and shorter operating time than Daydream Cool

Thanks for reading. Rob Cole

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