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Google Cardboard open-sourced as a lifeline for mobile VR

Google sold over 15 million Cardboard viewers, but has called time on official support. (Source: Google)
Google sold over 15 million Cardboard viewers, but has called time on official support. (Source: Google)
VR on smartphones is all but dead following the end of Samsung’s Galaxy VR ambitions and Google’s recent announcement that it has ceased development for its Daydream VR platform. However, in an inkling of hope for those who were sold on the idea, Google has open-sourced its Google Cardboard VR headset design so that it might have a second life.

Google Cardboard first hit the market as a cheap and affordable way for users to start exploring virtual reality using smartphones that they already owned. Five years later, Google, sadly, has all but abandoned its pursuit of smartphones as a basis for moving forward with VR with the official termination of its more polished Daydream VR efforts. Of course, it is not alone, with Samsung similarly abandoning its own Galaxy VR by noticeably dropping support for it on its latest flagship, the Galaxy Note 10.

In a glimmer of hope for those who were sold on the concept of turning their smartphone into a VR headset, Google has announced that is open-sourcing the Cardboard project to let the developer community continue to build Cardboard experiences into the future. This includes releasing libraries for developers to build Cardboard apps for iOS and Android phones brought to life with Cardboard viewers. The company is also supporting the effort with developer documentation, source code and access to the latest releases.

VR is at something of a tipping point. Although Google ultimately sold 15 million Cardboard headsets (with many more copies also hitting the market), even fully-fledged VR headsets from Oculus and HTC haven’t exactly set the market on fire. Even the standalone Oculus Quest that eliminates wires and which effectively builds a smartphone into the headset itself, while reasonably popular, can’t be described as a runaway hit. Chief among the usability issues include nausea, which is something that seems unlikely to be eliminated entirely in the near future, if at all.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 11 > Google Cardboard open-sourced as a lifeline for mobile VR
Sanjiv Sathiah, 2019-11- 7 (Update: 2019-11- 7)
Sanjiv Sathiah
Sanjiv Sathiah - News Editor
I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have grown to enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture out now on Spotify.