Google’s “Works With Cardboard” Program to Improve Android VR Compatibility

google works with cardboard vr headset virtual reality powisIt sounded like a joke at first. Google built a template that allowed users to cut out a cardboard headset which turned their phone into a Virtual Reality display.

What started off as a proof of concept for VR applications on mobile devices, has exploded as it’s one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to try out VR content. App developers are paying attention as there’s a growing list of services being developed for VR with Google Cardboard in mind. While you can create your own headset using Google’s template, there are also a number of companies building pre-assembled headsets out of cardboard or plastic. Even the Viewmaster will be returning this Fall as a Cardboard inspired VR experience.

With a growing community, it would only make sense that Google would continue investing in this project, and they’ve now announced a “Works With Cardboard” program for better hardware and software compatibility moving forward.

google works with cardboard vr headset virtual reality

Developers will receive better tools for migrating existing apps and services into a VR environment, Manufacturers will get a new tool which helps customers automatically configure the app for different hardware builds, and consumers will have access to a better organized app store experience.

It’s a very positive development to see Google taking this sector seriously, as VR is primed to be a hot industry as Oculus, Razer, Samsung, and HTC are all moving to get solutions into consumer’s hands. Google is betting on your first taste of VR coming from the (Android) phone you already own.

Works with Google Cardboard: creativity plus compatibility

SomeGadgetGuy Youtube 360 Degree Video Test Shot on Kodak PixPro SP360!

You can now upload 360 degree video to Youtube! This will be amazing for Google Cardboard and VR headsets, but even viewing it on a phone or in a browser, it’s a really immersive way to interact with content!

Here’s a quick tour of my completely trashed office shot on the Kodak Pixpro SP360! Make sure to view this in Google Chrome or through the Android Youtube App, otherwise you’ll just see a regular wide angle video.

Shop the SP360 on Amazon.
Kodak SP360 Review.
More SP360 Video Samples.
Raw “square” video from the SP360.

Youtube Now Supports 360 Degree Video in Android and Chrome!

youtube panorama video 360 degree demoWe’re on the edge of a whole new generation of consumer produced immersive and interactive content. After playing with cameras like the Kodak PixPro SP360, which can shoot panorama video, we’ll soon be sharing immersive experiences that put people in the middle of a memory.

Activated on Youtube, when watching special panoramic videos through the chrome browser you’ll be able to “look around” a scene with side mounted controls. When viewed through the Android app, your phone’s accelerometer will allow you to tilt your phone screen around to see whats happening all around you.

This is a really exciting move, as it positions Youtube as an early resource for user generated 360 degree and virtual reality content. You can see an example video from MY OFFICE below.

MWC2015: Galaxy S6 & Samsung Pay! HTC One M9 & RE Vive VR Headset! Announcement Reactions!

It’s been a crazy start to MWC 2015 with a pair of killer announcements from Samsung and HTC! New smartphones, mobile payment systems, and a VR headset! What were your first reactions to the news? Drop a comment below!

HTC Announces One M9 and RE Vive VR Headset with Valve Partnership

HTC took the wraps off their next flagship smartphone and showcased partnerships with Valve and Under Armour for a new VR headset and fitness tracker respectively.

Screenshot (12)The One M9 has been leaked and discussed, but we now have confirmation that the shell will be very similar to last years M8. We’re treated to the same 5″ LCD 1080p display covered in Gorilla Glass 4. We’ll get 3GB of RAM and 32GB of built in storage with an SD card slot which supports up to a 128GB card. Those BoomSound speakers return, everything we’ve enjoyed from the M8 is back.

What’s new is the Qualcomm 810 chipset will be powering this new phone. Should be interesting to see how performance is managed in an all metal phone with an HD display.

Screenshot (13)HTC has also updated the camera, walking away from the gimmicky dual sensor shooter on the M8, to a single larger 20MP rear shooter. It’s expected that this camera and chipset should deliver UHD video, 60fps 1080p, and a high speed slow motion mode, but we’ll have to wait for devices to confirm that.

Lastly, it looks like HTC has finally seen the light on ergonomics, and joined the rest of the Smartphone world in moving the power button to the side of the phone.

Partnering with Under Armour, HTC also took the wraps off of the Grip fitness tracker. Looking a bit like a Nike Fuel or Gear Fit. The P-OLED display should provide decent battery life, and the entire build is sweat and water resistant.

Perhaps the most exciting announcement from HTC however was watching them step into the world of Virtual Reality headsets with the RE Vive. Partnering with Valve, the headset is a high end competitor to Samsung’s Gear VR. Instead of using a phone as the display, Vive is a self contained unit with dual 1200×1080 resolution displays with 90Hz refresh rates providing smoother and faster responses than Oculus which pumps out 75Hz.

Over 70 sensors on board track not only movement, but when paired with a pair of SteamVR base stations, it will create a 15 by 15 foot action area. Instead of being tethered to one spot, Vive will track your movement.

HTC-Vive_White small

Vive will ship with a pair of game controllers, but we still don’t have details on price, shipping dates, or how this unit will be powered. Will HTC require an HTC phone? Will this be a standalone product? We’re all waiting to find out!

You can catch the full HTC Press conference below!

LG to Release Free Plastic Version of Google Cardboard VR Headset to G3 Owners

LGE_VR+G3_5002We’ve seen a few companies build out variations on Google’s “inexpensive” solution for using a phone as a VR screen.

Based on that template however, LG will be building a plastic rig, designed specifically for the G3, and if you’re looking to buy LG’s current QHD screened flagship smartphone, chances are you can score a headset for free. We don’t have details yet on how or when LG might start shipping, but you can read their full press release below for more info!

Continue reading “LG to Release Free Plastic Version of Google Cardboard VR Headset to G3 Owners”

Samsung Partners With Oculus for Gear VR Headset

Samsung is betting on VR becoming a popular service. Thankfully, instead of reinventing the wheel and releasing a standalone proprietary headset, they’re partnering with Oculus to bring the Gear VR to market.

Utilizing the same AMOLED screen found on the Note 4, the Gear VR brings an even higher resolution than the most current Oculus Rift Developer Kit, effectively 1280 x 1440 per eye.

samsung gear vr headset front viewThe Gear VR will also feature a MicroUSB connector allowing to hook up to a Galaxy Note 4 to display content. Wearable headsets like this can be used to either create an immersive 3D world around the viewer, or provide for a more passive “I Got a Movie Theater All To Myself” effect. The headset will come with a MicroSD card which will include a handful of movies and demos from Marvel, IMAX, Dreamworks, and more.

While there’s no hard launch date or pricing info, Samsung says the Gear VR will be available this year. Oculus got a shot in the arm after Facebook acquired it, but Samsung has the resources to push new technologies into the mainstream.

You can read Samsung’s full PR below.

Continue reading “Samsung Partners With Oculus for Gear VR Headset”

Pre-Cut “Oculus Thrift” Google Cardboard VR Headset Kit Available on Amazon

google cardboardDuring Google I/O this year, one of the biggest hits actually came by way of an inexpensive cardboard shell.┬áLike when you buy a kid an expensive toy and they’d rather play with the packaging…

Google Cardboard is designed for developers to start inexpensively developing apps for 3D and VR. A cardboard shell sets up like an old Viewmaster toy, and it uses your phone screen as the display. It might look a bit silly, but what was demonstrated at I/O was actually quite sophisticated, with magnets for orientation and NFC tags inside to launch the special split-screen mode for your phone.

Now you can also buy a pre-cut kit from a company called Smart Exhibits on Amazon. If you don’t want to bother with all that cardboard slicing, they have you covered for $10. Though you’ll have to supply your own magnets, lenses, and NFC tags…