Google has announced that the company will be increasing its focus on its virtual reality viewer, called Cardboard, in the coming months. The company wants to make virtual reality available to everyone and is dedicated to funding initiatives that expand virtual reality to as many phones as possible. The ultimate goal of the project is to create an inexpensive virtual reality device that could be used by anybody with a smartphone. The announcement was made at the Google I/O developer conference recently held in San Francisco.
Google’s virtual reality viewer is currently a cardboard box, with some lenses and a magnet. Many adults would liken it to the plastic View-Master toy that they had as a child. Cardboard’s specifications have already been put online so hobbyists and manufacturers could build them. The cost of building the device is roughly $4. In the year since the specs were initially released, the Cardboard app has been downloaded roughly one million times and creative users have made viewers from foam, aluminum and even walnut.
With the current model, the smartphone sits in a slot at the front of the device in position in front of the user’s eyes. The user looks through a pair of plastic lenses installed inside the device to view the image on the phone’s screen in 3-D. With the virtual reality device, users would be able to do things like fly through a Google Earth map of New York City or make their personal pictures three-dimensional.
There will be several programs implemented to bring the virtual reality device to life. The hardware of the devices was recently redesigned so that it can accommodate any smartphone, including the new large screen models. The new design is also easier to fold and store. The company has also released a new software kit for developers that will make it easier to build Cardboard apps for iPhones. It will be interesting to see how the project progresses.
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