Google has just announced support for Google Maps Street View from its insanely low-priced virtual reality headset called Google Cardboard. The virtual reality device is literally made out of cardboard was a surprise announcement at Google I/O 2014 and has been mostly praised for its usefulness.
Google Cardboard takes a phone inside of it and turns the cardboard into a working virtual reality headset. With the support of Street View, you can wear the headset and look around and see imagery from Google Maps Street View like a real world experience.
Users with the latest version of Google Maps on Android which now supports VR mode. After entering street view, you can tap the icon on the lower right twice and then place your phone in your Cardboard VR. Double tapping the icon splits the display in two, enabling you to see the display from the Cardboard.
Google wants to do more with its Maps and Street View feature. It’s not just limited into outdoor views anymore as the search giant is working with partners to bring indoor views onto Google Maps – known as Business View — to take users into indoor places. For example, you could see the outside views of Madison Square Garden, but with Business View, you’ll be able to see what’s inside without actually having to step in.
Google Cardboard has gained a lot of traction ever since its release at this year’s I/O conference. The $10 gadget has been sold more than 500,000 units around the world, according to stats from Google. The cheap device has two 40mm lenses that gives the user view into the smartphone that needs to be inserted into it. It supports 4.7-inch display as of now. When placed into the Cardboard, Google uses various technologies such as the device’s magnetometer to show you a 3D effect through the lenses into your smartphone when you look through them and move your head around. It’s a real life experience inside a little piece of gadget.
The idea isn’t new, but how Google implemented it using such low-cost materials is brilliant. It even has a magnetic button on the side to let you interact with the phone as you cannot use the device otherwise when it’s put into the VR.
Google Cardboard can be purchased online for just $10 or made at home using ingredients such as Velcro, rubber bands, magnets, lenses and cardboard. There are also third-party cardboard goggles available for purchase including the $22 Dodo Case and I Am Cardboard which costs just $20.
Although it may seem like Google made Cardboard just for fun – probably it did too – now that it has taken off, Google is taking it to the next level. The search giant has recently introduced SDKs for Android and Unity to encourage development for Cardboard. It will also create a new section to show apps specifically compatible with Cardboard, just like now it does for Android Wear.
Moreover, the company is encouraging development of the actual device among people by giving specifications and a calibration tool that will be needed to make sure the Cardboard system works on custom made viewers.
Who would have thought that such a simple, fun project from Google would actually turn into a great success, making it somewhat comparable to the otherwise expensive virtual reality devices such as Samsung’s Gear VR.