Google gave a glimpse into virtual reality when they gave away ‘Cardboard’ at a conference in 2014. Stunned by the simplicity of the giveaway, people assumed it to be a joke. Were they mocking VR giant 'Oculus', or pulling a prank on attendees who were expecting something more along the lines of a free smartwatch? The reality was that Google had just equipped everyone in that room with a device, which would turn their smartphones into a DIY, low-cost virtual reality headset.
Virtual Reality is meant to be a big game changer, likely to have influence over film, gaming, travel, communication and education. VR technology feels very futuristic currently but the era has already begun developing and shows no sign of slowing down. People who try Google Cardboard are never disappointed, and even such a simplistic device, seems to prove to skeptics that Virtual Reality is on the way, and it really will be as good as it says it is going to be.
Here in the G2 office, we have a couple of Google Cardboard headsets kicking about; the pretty basic app features are amusing enough when taking a virtual tour of museum artifacts or Google street view but are not overly impressive and the novelty soon wears off. That is, until now. If you were feeling underwhelmed by the Cardboard apps, then fear not, as things have started to get a lot more exciting indeed.
In early November, Google announced that you won’t only be able to use your phone to view the specific VR content, but also YouTube content in new theatre mode. There are so many new free VR offerings out there, which make Google Cardboard much more exciting, it’s just a case of finding them. Available already, are a selection of apps designed to make you feel like you’re walking with dinosaurs, at a theme park, on a rollercoaster or travelling through space. My personal favorite is the Insidious VR app as it is almost like being in a game where you travel through different levels, however it can get pretty scary when you’re on your own with your headphones in.
Content developers are taking this technology to new levels, allowing users to get up close and personal with Paul McCartney performing Live and Let die in full immersive 3D sound and a 360 degree camera rig or taking a glimpse into the world of watchable VR with developer VRSE who are offering a growing amount of content ranging from on set experiences to documentary material.
With Oculus Rift expected to launch in 2016, we’ve had a glimpse into the world of Virtual Reality, and it’s likely to live up to expectations. Google Cardboard has allowed the world to see what can be possible with £10 and a smartphone, so imagine what is going to come next!