Google Cardboard App Takes VR to the Streets

November 10, 2015 - 3 minutes read

google cardboardArmchair explorers, virtual reality enthusiasts and iPhone app developers rejoice: the Google Cardboard app is officially available, and it support Street View. It’s on Android, it’s on iOS, and it works in 39 languages across 100 countries worldwide.

For a peak at some of the incredible experiences available through the new app, take a look at the far-reaching adventures posted by Jordan Novet over at VentureBeat. From Fiji to the Hoover Dam to the street outside his childhood home, the awesome potential for a combination of Google Street View and virtual reality is abundantly clear. iPhone app developers in Las Vegas can wander the streets of Paris. Patients in hospice can visit their family home. Did we mention that you can go to Mars with this thing? The possibilities are endless.

For mobile developers who would like to get their hands a little dirtier, Google has also published the Cardboard developer docs, which support VR tinkerers in 10 languages.

Making a viewer is as simple as downloading the kit from the Google Cardboard website, which totes the promise that “[w]hen we said Cardboard is for everyone we meant everyone, and that includes manufacturers too. So the Cardboard viewer specification is open source and ready for you to start building.”

Clearly, accessibility is a big focus for Google in their move into VR. Google employee Scot Maxwell bragged that “you can make your own from a pizza box.” And true to promise, Google has been quietly putting their money where their mouth is; launching pro-education projects like Expeditions, which introduces VR to classrooms to take students on field trips to the Great Wall of China, Wall Street, and anywhere else that’s impractical for a school bus to go on a day trip.

For users turned off by the chunky cardboard look of the official viewer, several slightly more upscale viewers are already available, of which the Zeiss VR One GX and Mattel View-Master are both excellent options. For third-party viewers, be sure to check for the “works with Google Cardboard” badge, available via Google Cardboard to manufacturers that follow official guidelines and best practices.

With more than 15 million downloads from Google Play as of this writing, it’s clear that virtual reality is going to be a disruptive force in the iPhone and Android app development industries.

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