Google launches updated Cardboard, teams up with GoPro for Google Jump
At the annual Google I/O developers’ conference held in San Francisco, the tech giant is introducing cutting-edge technology to the world – developers get a first-hand look and feel with the latest technology developments. Virtual reality is among the recent developments brought by Google, and it’s got an even greater impact on the future of VR for consumers.
It can be recalled that Google introduced itself to the world of VR with its cheap virtual reality headset, Cardboard. Google proved successful in making Cardboard a cheap, affordable way to experience VR by leveraging on the capabilities of smartphones. It was touted as a fun and cheap way to get immersive VR experiences by using some common stationery materials and a compatible smartphone. The success of Cardboard was the primary reason for Google to update the cheap hardware and bring it to an even greater audience. Google announced a redesigned Cardboard, which will now be compatible with almost all smartphones – including iPhones – together with some hardware improvements. The redesigned Cardboard will now support smartphones of sizes up to 6 inches, including the iPhone 6 Plus. Also, the old magnetic button was replaced by a conductive foam button that works as the primary input device for navigation within the Cardboard interface. iPhone users will now be able to join the Cardboard fun that only Android users were able to enjoy previously.
Clay Bavor, Google’s Product Vice President, was the one who introduced updates to the Cardboard. As the keynote address finished, Google I/O attendees were able to get their own Cardboards upon exiting the conference hall. According to Bavor, Google is expanding its reach to the Apple consumer base with the added iPhone support. Also, they are introducing a new initiative called Expeditions, which aims to allow teachers to let children explore the world using virtual reality. Expeditions is basically a virtual field trip for kids to explore the beautiful places around the world – made possible by the window of VR. Thanks to the relatively low cost of Cardboard, educational institutions will benefit from using Cardboard in the Expeditions project.
Google estimates that Cardboard sales have reached just over 1 million since its launch, and an equivalent number of Cardboard-optimized apps have been downloaded by its users. A new, simpler blueprint is available on Google Cardboard’s website for building Cardboard from scratch. The new design overhaul to Cardboard will allow large phones to support the VR headset, including the iPhone 6 Plus and the Samsung Nexus 6.
To further expand its presence into the world of VR, Google teams up with GoPro to introduce Jump, a specialized camera array made up of 16 GoPro HERO4 camera modules arranged in a circular manner. The cameras are strategically positioned to fully capture 360-degree content relative to the user who wears it. Jump arranges videos and stitches them to create 360-degree video that lets its viewer to fully experience the scene as if he is actually there. Google will unveil YouTube support for Jump in the very near future, allowing anyone to view YouTube-stored Jump videos while wearing the Cardboard VR headset. With the Cardboard and Jump working together, its users will be treated to a fully immersive VR experience. Imagine seeing Google Street View using Cardboard – it’s what Jump is aiming for.