Google have launched a new ‘Works with Google Cardboard’ programme, and what started off looking like a toy, is beginning to resemble a viable project base for anyone looking to develop an affordable VR project.
For makers and developers the new initiative will offer Google certification and a new set of compatibility tools. New sets of guidelines will ‘focus on overall usability, as well as common VR pitfalls’. For users, the Google Play Cardboard collection is being expanded to include the additional categories of ‘Music and Video’, ‘Games’ and ‘Experiences’.
Google cardboard goggles can be bought for less than £10 from Amazon UK (or you can download some free instructions and make one out of a pizza box), whereas an Oculus headset will likely set you back around £400. This low, or zero cost approach gives consumers an easy entry into the world of VR and is expected to help drive development of the medium.
Sean Hollister of Gizmodo UK explains how a new QR code printed on the side of ‘Works with Google Cardboard’ goggles will tell a user’s smartphone how the optics work so that screen settings are adjusted accordingly. He goes on to explain how what seems like an overly paired down solution works to give users a VR experience. >‘Early on, the Cardboard team discovered that the existing crop of inertial sensors you find inside smartphones weren’t quite good enough to allow people to quickly turn their heads in virtual reality. (Incidentally, that’s why the Samsung Gear VR has its own separate tracker module.) The team found that if you removed the strap, people would naturally hold Cardboard up to their face and turn their whole body instead of just their neck, which was easier for the sensors to process, and much less likely to make people feel disoriented. That’s why none of Google Cardboard’s hardware partners have straps. And if you’re holding up a headset to your face, you won’t have extra hands for a controller anyhow’.
Google cardboard apps are reviewed by here by PC Advisor. The apps available at the moment all operate on a simple basis, but as the technology becomes more accessible and experimentation more widespread, we may start seeing some interesting developments from creative developers and VR journalists with small budgets.