While Oculus is still developing VR technology and Samsung recently releasing its own VR headset, Google has made the process of experiencing VR simple and cheap. First introduced at Google I/O this year, Cardboard only requires an Android smartphone and a viewer made out of cardboard.
It's an interesting idea that could have a lot of potential. After reaching a milestone of over 500,000 Cardboard viewers delivered, Google announced the next step for Cardboard by offering more Cardboard-compatible apps and inviting developers to create new apps with the technology.
There are a little over 20 Cardboard-based apps available on the Google Play store. Some of these are games such as "Caaaaardboard!" where the player jumps from the roof of a skyscraper and collects different values on the way down for high scores before landing safely on the ground. Others are more of an interactive experience like "The Hobbit VR Experience" which gives fans a 360-degree view of the Shire.
A small selection of apps isn't enough to showcase the full extent of Cardboard's capabilities, so Google is also providing an Android and Unity SDK for developers to create their own apps. By providing two different SDKs, Google hopes to gain the attention of many more developers instead of limiting itself to just Android developers.
Cardboard uses simple materials for the viewer, so it's not surprising that Google is also providing new building specifications for Cardboard so that you can gather and build one for yourself. The company also plans to release a viewer calibration tool next year to provide even more customization to the viewer.
What seemed like a fun little tool could eventually become a big market for Google. In fact, the company is already hiring designers and engineers for a virtual reality project, which could potentially make Cardboard a serious contender in the near future.