Posted by Andrew Nartker, Product Manager, Google Cardboard
All of us is greater than any single one of us. That’s why we open sourced the Cardboard viewer design on day one. And why we’ve been working on virtual reality (VR) tools for manufacturers and developers ever since. We want to make VR better together, and the community continues to inspire us.
For example: what began with cardboard, velcro and some lenses has become a part of toy fairs and art shows and film festivals all over the world. There are also hundreds of Cardboard apps on Google Play, including test drives, roller coaster rides, and mountain climbs. And people keep finding new ways to bring VR into their daily lives—from campus tours to marriage proposals to vacation planning.
It’s what we dreamed about when we folded our first piece of cardboard, and combined it with a smartphone: a VR experience for everyone! And less than a year later, there’s a tremendous diversity of VR viewers and apps to choose from. To keep this creativity going, however, we also need to invest in compatibility. That’s why we’re announcing a new program called Works with Google Cardboard.
At its core, the program enables any Cardboard viewer to work well with any Cardboard app. And the result is more awesome VR for all of us.
For makers: compatibility tools, and a certification badge
These days you can find Cardboard viewers made from all sorts of materials—plastic, wood, metal, even pizza boxes. The challenge is that each viewer may have slightly different optics and dimensions, and apps actually need this info to deliver a great experience. That’s why, as part of today’s program, we’re releasing a new tool that configures any viewer for every Cardboard app, automatically.
As a manufacturer, all you need to do is define your viewer’s key parameters (like focal length, input type, and inter-lens distance), and you’ll get a QR code to place on your device. Once a user scans this code using the Google Cardboard app, all their other Cardboard VR experiences will be optimized for your viewer. And that’s it.
Starting today, manufacturers can also apply for a program certification badge. This way potential users will know, at a glance, that a VR viewer works great with Cardboard apps and games. Visit the Cardboard website to get started.
For developers: design guidelines and SDK updates
Whether you’re building your first VR app, or you’ve done it ten times before, creating an immersive experience comes with a unique set of design questions like, “How should I orient users at startup?” Or “How do menus even work in VR?”
We’ve explored these questions (and many more) since launch, and today we’re sharing our initial learnings with the developer community. Our new design guidelines focus on overall usability, as well as common VR pitfalls, so take a look and let us know your thoughts.
Of course, we want to make it easier to design and build great apps. So today we're also updating the Cardboard SDKs for Android and Unity—including improved head tracking and drift correction. In addition, both SDKs support the Works with Google Cardboard program, so all your apps will play nice with all certified VR viewers.
For users: apps + viewers = choices
The number of Cardboard apps has quickly grown from dozens to hundreds, so we’re expanding our Google Play collection to help you find high-quality apps even faster. New categories include Music and Video, Games, and Experiences. Whether you’re blasting asteroids, or reliving the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special, there’s plenty to explore on Google Play.
Today’s Works with Google Cardboard announcement means you’ll get the same great VR experience across a wide selection of Cardboard viewers. Find the viewer that fits you best, and then fire up your favorite apps.
For the future: Thrive Audio and Tilt Brush are joining the Google family
Most of today’s VR experiences focus on what you see, but what you hear is just as important. That’s why we’re excited to welcome the Thrive Audio team from the School of Engineering in Trinity College Dublin to Google. With their ambisonic surround sound technology, we can start bringing immersive audio to VR.
In addition, we’re thrilled to have the Tilt Brush team join our family. With its innovative approach to 3D painting, Tilt Brush won last year’s Proto Award for Best Graphical User Interface. We’re looking forward to having them at Google, and building great apps together.
Ultimately, today’s updates are about making VR better together. Join the fold, and let’s have some fun.