Google's virtual reality: Some assembly required.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) surprised everyone at its Google I/O developer conference yesterday, handing out free packages containing...cardboard to attendees. Many attendees were expecting cool swag like new Android tablets and initially thought the crafty search giant was cutting-up at their expense. Not so. The packages contained a clever do-it-yourself cardboard (and magnets!) virtual reality kits -- inciting intense feelings of envy and hatred in the hearts of Pinterest's entire user base.
Reviews of "Google Cardboard" are mixed: some users were able to experience VR in full awkward glory, while others gained temporary blurred vision and headaches. In translation, this means we can expect Cardboard to remain in beta for quite a while -- a history shared by just about every other new Google product.
In IT Blogwatch, bloggers make a run to the local craft shop.
Filling in for our humble blogwatcher Richi Jennings, is a humbler Stephen Glasskeys.
Even Google is getting in on the virtual reality game. At the end of the [Google I/O] keynote, Sundar Pichai announced that everyone [would get a] cardboard package, but was coy about its contents. ... Turns out, it's the firm's attempt at a do-it-yourself VR headset. MORE
Attendees of the...keynote...received a free VR headset called Cardboard...it is, in fact, made out of brown cardboard...including a pair of lenses, some Velcro, and a couple of magnets.
The lenses in the front then allow you to view stereoscopic animations...when you tilt your head your vision pans around a virtual environment. A pair of magnets on one side of the box work with the phone's magnetometer to act as a button for clicking on things.
That's the idea, at any rate. When we tried it with a Moto X, the graphics were a blurry mess that made our eyes cross and the magnet-button didn't seem to do anything. MORE
Virtual reality has made exciting progress over the past several years. However, developing for VR still requires expensive, specialized hardware. Thinking about how to make VR accessible to more people, a group of VR enthusiasts at Google experimented with using a smartphone to drive VR experiences.
The result is Cardboard, a no-frills enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset, and the accompanying open software toolkit that makes writing VR software as simple as building a web or mobile app. MORE
Google isn't stopping at [VR] hardware, if you'll allow us to call it that. The company released today a self-described experimental software development kit for Cardboard experiences. Cardboard also has an Android companion app that's required to utilize Google's own VR-specific applications, called Chrome Experiments. MORE
Cardboard follows in the footsteps of other DIY virtual reality kits, including the FOV2GO, which was created by USC professor Mark Bolas. Like Cardboard, the FOV2GO makes use of off the shelf lenses and specially cut cardboard...to hold a smartphone in a particular spot. It was unveiled two years ago at the IEEE VR Conference in California, and ended up winning an award for the best demo. MORE
It's worth noting that early Oculus Rift prototypes were designed around an iPhone with a VR viewer - so the concept isn't that bizarre.
OK, we lied. It's totally bizarre. It's also kind of awesome. MORE
Google Cardboard is the next frontier for Google. After aiming to disrupt almost every other market, all that's left is Arts & Crafts. MORE