VIRTUAL REALITY IS HERE AND YOU CAN HAVE IT FOR LESS THAN $50 DOLLARS
Get ready to jump into virtual reality with a D.I.Y. kit designed by Google and powered by your Smartphone. Learn how to turn your Unity projects into virtual reality.
YOUR SMARTPHONE AS A LOW BUDGET VR DEVICE
No doubt VR has been gaining terrain in the entertainment industry and generating hype. VR wearable devices have been appearing in the horizon and this is opening new doors for the entertainment market. Technology has a fast growing nature and it fascinates us for sure. I personally can’t help being happy to see companies like Microsoft and their HoloLens or Facebook with Oculus Rift, and of course Google with its Cardboard. We are talking about the most important companies around the world investing their resources in VR, so it can’t get any better.
So what exactly is Google Cardboard? I’ll define it as an original, brilliant and super cool idea involving both technology and design. The name says it all, this virtual reality device is actually made of cardboard. As soon as you get it from the mail you will need to assemble it together until you end up with the fully functional model. You might be wondering what happens next. Well, you will be surprised to know that the key to virtual reality has always been in your pocket. Yes, your Smartphone. All you need to do is download and install the Google Cardboard app and start enjoying VR in no time. Wondering if you can just get some cardboard and draw and cut your glasses yourself ? The answer is yes, you can. There are many vendors online selling all materials you need to create a good Google Cardboard piece, from magnets to Binconvex lenses.
So let’s talk about all we can do with Google Cardboard. Depending on your taste you can expect to get amazing gaming experiences, as titles are already available in the Play Store. It is a sure thing new and more realistic ones will see the light of the day in the coming months. Now, if you are more into culture, how does visiting the most awesome museums around the world in a 360 degrees view sound to you? Tempting, right? Here I will take some time to tell you about Orbulus, and as they say:
“A must download for anyone wanting a bit of VR culture in their lives, Orbulus brings the work of the Photo Sphere community to life, putting you dead centre of some incredible landscapes and venues”.
Now, to get a little bit more serious here, the Google Cardboard device can be used for educational and scientific purposes, as schools and academies could implement VR lessons to bring their graduates to places that would usually require flights, money and days to visit. And here we can stop and think about the potential it has for universities and careers like Architecture or Industrial Design. And what about medical technology? It is truly fascinating. What makes Google Cardboard different from Oculus and other VR devices is its affordability. Everybody has a Smartphone that can be used with the design, so this is a huge advantage over all other products in the market.
ASSEMBLING GOOGLE CARDBOARD
VIRTUAL REALITY IS HERE
Google Cardboard comes in a flat state, like a true piece of cardboard; it is your mission to assemble it together in order to open the doors of Virtual Reality. Detailed instructions are provided and they are failproof so don’t be scared of folding and putting things together. It is all designed in a way that anybody can pull it off. You can always download the instructions and get a better idea on how to put it together but I am telling you, it is very easy and you will be enjoying VR in no time.
Blue prints for Google Cardboard available in their website.
Who would have though that one day we’d have affordable Virtual Reality technology? And, made of cardboard! Virtual Reality is here!
Are you feeling like a true mad scientist? Well, if you have what it takes to gather all required materials on your own, you can download the blueprints for Google Cardboard from the Internet by following this link.
From here just make sure you have all elements needed and start creating your own VR device. I personally find this method more valuable as you can create the whole thing with your own hands. Print different parts and follow patterns, cut and paste and voilà! Google Cardboard is in your hands. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
1.First of all you must select a nice piece of cardboard.
If you follow Google’s assembly instructions you will find that you can print it in separately, and later on you can glue it to create the complete piece.
A note about the cardboard selection: the big corrugated ones can make things more difficult as the waves from the cardboard can create imperfections, making it harder to manipulate and fold.
2. Select thin and tough cardboard pieces for better results.
3. Download the template from the link I provided, print the different pages then glue them on your cardboard.
4. Google’s template comes in three pages, you will need to assemble page 2 and 3 by putting together the numbered parts.
5. You will need to make the holes for both lenses, but don’t worry if they don’t look perfect, as you can fix them later on with some glue.
Cardboard ready for build! Virtual reality is here!
You can purchase customized Cardboards like this, from KnoxLabs
6. The lenses side will be the center part of the fold mount. The rest of the cardboard will wrap this part.
7. You need to put one magnet outside and another one inside the cardboard, and these magnets will be detected as a button later on in your application.
8. Finally you must glue the velcro in the upper part of the device and that’s all, your Cardboard is ready!
If you’re feeling particularly creative and innovative, you can customize your device or create your own design and upload it to the Google Cardboard site.
But it doesn’t need to be this complicated, as you can get a pre- made model from retailers. There are different manufactures offering this product. In the Cardboard site Google suggests some of them, like Unofficial Cardboard, KnoxLabs, Dodocase or I Am Cardboard. They all offer a wide variety of models in different sizes, colors, designs and prices.
By the way, if you are a manufacturer or plan to become one, you can ask Google to feature you on their supplier’s list. There are numerous sites where you can buy your Cardboard, including Ebay and Amazon. Just take a look at them and search for your favorite design – and also for the cheaper and more convenient model for your needs.
The device is truly amazing and fully compatible with most mobile devices (Google Nexus 4 and 5, Motorola Moto X, Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, Samsung Galaxy Nexus). It is partially compatible (the magnetic input on the cardboard is not working) with a couple of others (HTC One M7 and Motorola Moto G).
All apps and games designed for Google Cardboard are developed in a stereoscopic display software. In this sense, Google provides us with two SDKs, one for Android and another one for Unity users. In this part of the article I will take a look at the Unity SDK to finally deliver a complete example.
THE UNITY SDK
We can use the Cardboard package with the free version of Unity (except the distortion-correction and the Cardboard GUI), so it makes things more accessible for everyone. This plugin will help us to create new VR apps or to adapt our existing apps to the Cardboard, meaning that you can use your previous projects and bring them to VR. When using the pro version of Unity, the SDK is able to identify the GUI elements and show them in 3D. The interaction with the user is very simple, all you gotta do is look at the button and trigger the UI element by using the magnet.
For this example I will use an exciting roller coaster scene. You can download the complete scene from: www.unt3dmag.com/ftp/ unt3dmag_cardboard_master.zip. If I execute my example prior to importing it and use the plugin,
I get a nicer roller coaster effect. Now I only need to import the package to my scene. With the SDK imported, getting a stereoscopic display is as easy as attaching the Stereoscopic Controller to my main Camera.
The next time I run my scene I will see my main Camera divided in two, one for each lenses . In my case, by adding the controller script I have broken the previous script so the camera won’t follow the movement over the rails.
To resolve this issue we only need to the following: Create an empty game object and attach the camera to it. Then assign assign the script for the controlling of the movement of the camera of the roller coaster to the new parent GameObject, this will solve our tracking problem.
From here I can explore the possibilities of the plugin and the use of the GUI for the detection of head movement. You can see an example of head detection in the sample provided in the SDK. Looking at the example you will find the Cardboard main object with the main Cardboard script that activates or deactivates the VR mode.
Inside this Game Object we will also find the Head Game Object and its script to update our head rotation (and inside this we find the Main Camera with the Stereoscopic Controller which I discussed earlier) and the CardBord GUI that I will display the UI to the user.
The most interesting part resides in both the Cube and the Teleport scripts. If I take a look to the script I can find how the SDK detects my head and how it tells if the head is looking straight to my GameObject.
It also detects if the magnet has been triggered. When I look at the Cube it changes its color, and if I trigger the magnet while I am looking at the cube it will teleport me to a random place in the scene. This is a basic but very useful example to learn the main functions of the SDK.
Google Cardboard is supported by an active Google+ community and you can also ask about any queries or issues you might have by using the tag #google-cardboard on StackOverFlow. Moreover, the Cardboard plugin has a huge documentation library that explains in detail, every file and function on the SDK.
THREE APPS TO DOWNLOAD RIGHT NOW FROM GOOGLE PLAY STORE!
The jumps you make from buildings floating above Boston, Massachusetts are all about style and timing. You perform stunts, weaving around the bustling City for points, making split-second decisions: do you snake around those girders to earn a dozen “kisses,” or glide along the side of that steel super- skyscraper for massive “hugs”?
TILT BRUSH GALLERY
The Tilt Brush Gallery for Google Cardboard lets you easily view creations made inside Tilt Brush, a painting application made specifically for Virtual Reality.
Load pre-made sketches and watch them draw in as they were originally created!
Enter “Showcase Mode” to view the sketches from all angles, using your head position to rotate around the scene!
Enable the Microphone and watch certain sketches come to life as the brush strokes respond to your voice!
Experience musical legend and visionary Sir Paul McCartney performing “Live and Let Die” in 360 degrees, with stereo 3D and immersive audio in Jaunt’s first publicly released cinematic VR experience as Virtual Reality is here!
Virtual Reality is here and Google Cardboard is a simple, original, cheap and very versatile solution to start playing with VR devices. The integration of the SDK is very easy and the controls for the head movement and the trigger are very nice and simple. In conclusion… go get your Cardboard and play with it and create something amazing. If nothing else you’ll be able to watch some 3D movies on it!