If Cardboard was Google’s way to democratize virtual reality, the company announced the next step to make it more accessible with Google Jump.
Google Jump is made up of three parts: The first is the camera. Google provides free specs on how to build a 360-degree camera rig, including schematics for 3D-printing components. Bavor said the company knows not everyone will want to mill their own, so he also presented GoPro’s turn-key product, which uses an array of 16 cameras to shoot VR video.
The second component is the assembler, the software for converting that raw video into VR. Much of the difficulty of shooting VR video is getting the camera geometry just right, and syncing the frames and the exposure, said Bavor. With Assembler, Google has done the hard work and will share the software for free.
“This is where the Google magic really begins,” Bavor said. The assembler takes the video from the 16 cameras and synthesizes a stereoscopic VR video. It takes a “whole lot of computers” to do it, Bavor remarked, as he walked through the computational-intensive task of making just one frame of video—color compensation, exposure compensation, alignment and more.
What appears to distinguish Google Jump from the traditional surround-still and video technologies that have been kicking around for well over a decade is the stereo information in the imagery. In the demo Bavor gave, shifting your head to the right or left would appear to move your head in the scene and have objects in the video shift as your perspective would. Most virtual reality still and video, such as Samsung’s MilkVR, are fairly static on movement, or they rely on 3D-rendered scenes such as those in a video game. Google’s Jump appears to take it it to the next level.
Eventually, it’s possible mere civilians will be able to access Google’s Jump. For now, however, the company said it’s approaching “select creators” to use Jump.
With Cardboard and Jump Google, has produced two pieces of the puzzle. Cardboard lets anyone with an Android phone view the video or images. Jump makes the cost of shooting the video more affordable.
Now for the third and final piece: where to view that video. And if you guessed YouTube, you win a candy cigar. Starting this summer, Bovar promised, YouTube will support stereoscopic VR video. For those who need something to watch now, Bavor said YouTube this week will start streaming non-stereoscopic video.
Of course, Jump wasn’t the only cool new product Google announced at I/O. For the full rundown about Inbox’s tweaks, the new Photos app, the Brillo OS for Internet of Things devices, and a whole lot more, check out Greenbot’s Google I/O landing page. And be sure to vote in our survey below for the major Google I/O announcements that excite you the most.