Facebook’s Oculus is coming out soon. The world wants to know if Google can compete – especially because their virtual reality device called Cardboard is actually, well, made out of cardboard.
Google claims that because it is made out of cardboard, it’s costs are extremely low. That means that just about anyone can get their smart phone and start playing around with virtual reality for a couple of bucks. The smart phone turned computer provides a small but significant virtual reality experience – especially for the price!
The new Google Cardboard version works with larger phones, such as the iPhone 6, Nexus 6 or Samsung 6 – all of which, as their names suggest, are 6″ phones. It also has some cool conductive foam that users can push to get an even more integrated feel as if they’re pushing on the screen.
One of the projects Google is integrating with Cardboard is called Expeditions. It’s a big set of cardboard drawers complete with visors, Nexus phones and a tablet, giving teachers the ability to provide virtual field trips for their students to real locations throughout the world. The experience can be paused when the students have questions – or when the teacher wants to get their attention before moving forward.
So far, the reaction from teachers and students has been positive and many of them are gaining their first ever encounter with virtual reality. The teacher is given just as much information as the local tour guide would have, adding to the legitimacy of the event.
Google is also allowing anyone to create their own virtual reality space by connecting 16 Go-Pro cameras to a round platform that records the environment from every angle.
Google then takes the images from the 16 cameras and, with high tech
videography algorithms, creates a thousand images from those original 16. This perceptually accurate process is what brings this form of virtual reality to life.
The new version of cardboard works with just about any size of smart phone – including Google’s nemesis – the iPhones. Google’s ambitions won’t end here. You might see the day in the not-too-distant future where one big camera will be able to take the place of the 16 small ones.
But for now, Google is providing app users everywhere with the ability to experience virtual reality no matter where they are straight from their smart phones.
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