Google's Works with Cardboard program makes VR headset setup dead simple

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Google's come up with a simple solution to make sure that the small legion of virtual reality headsets hitting the market actually work properly when they find their way into your hands. The company recently announced a new program called Works with Cardboard that guarantees a new Google Cardboard VR headset will play nice with virtual reality apps designed for the platform.

“At its core, the program enables any Cardboard viewer to work well with any Cardboard app. And the result is more awesome VR for all of us,” Google said in a blog post.

Why this matters: When Google first introduced Cardboard at I/O 2014 it seemed like a prank; a lame answer to the fast-growing world of high-tech virtual reality headsets from Oculus VR, Samsung, Sony, Valve, and possibly Microsoft. But the idea of slapping together a DIY VR headset using your phone and some inexpensive materials turned out to have a larger appeal than many anticipated. Now what was once a joke appears to be slowly turning into a real, yet still lighthearted, VR effort from Google.

Tools and guidelines

The most important tool Google is rolling out under the Works with Cardboard banner allows headset makers to ensure new hardware works with Cardboard apps. All the device maker has to do is define the hardware’s focal length, input type, and the distance between the two lenses. Then, Google creates a QR code for the goggles that gets slapped on the side of the device.

All you, as the user, have to do is scan that QR code with the Google Cardboard app and your phone will automatically tailor VR Android apps for your new goggles.

Google also issued design guidelines to help software developers improve their Cardboard apps, and it released an update to the Cardboard SDK for Android and the Unity gaming engine.

Beyond those major updates to Cardboard, Google is also beefing up the audio experience for its VR platform. Google said the Thrive Audio Team from the School of Engineering in Trinity College Dublin will help the company create immersive audio experiences for Cardboard VR. Google also acquired a start-up called Start Brush that specializes in 3D painting to improve how VR apps look.

This story, "Google's Works with Cardboard program makes VR headset setup dead simple" was originally published by PCWorld.

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