Android folks tend to get all of the cool Google things before the rest of the technological world — that’s just one of the benefits of using Google’s OS! — but one of those super cool concepts has now made its way to the iPhone, announced over on Google’s blog.
It’s called “Cardboard Camera”, and the basics of this one is that it’s a camera designed to let you capture 360 degree virtual reality photos like a panorama but with a left- and right-eye separation that will kick in when you put the phone into a Cardboard-based VR headset.
There are many of those headsets out and about, and 3Sixt’s VR headset reported on yesterday is one such concept, but the other is made of Cardboard because Google wrote the template, with Google’s Cardboard arguably providing the least expensive entry mechanism to the world of virtual reality for anyone curious to see what this world is like.
Cardboard Camera is then for anyone who has already dabbled and wants to take VR images without investing in the minimum $500 (and maximum $50K) needed to buy a dedicated 360 degree camera with, using the hardware of your phone — in this case the iPhone — to take images with a hint of sound that can be used with a virtual reality headset.
Using the camera isn’t complicated, and you simply load the app and then take a picture inside the app much like you would with a panorama, holding the phone upright and moving slowly around in 360 degrees, so basically spinning on the spot. As you do, the camera captures the world as you and it sees it, stitch together a panorama with a background of the sound that you’re hearing.
It’s a little like having a non-moving moment in time with the background audio just to provide that hint of immersion, and since Cardboard Camera came out on Android, there have been more than five million VR images taken with the app.
The addition of iOS will surely bring a few million more, and given that it’s on both of the major mobile platforms, means the cost of making VR, of starting that journey, is closer to everyone.