GOOGLE MAY HAVE given up on Daydream View - its fabric virtual reality headset for Pixel phones - but it's not ready to pull the plug on its Cardboard VR platform just yet. Perhaps realising that it's no longer the best evangelist for a format it's quietly abandoned, the company has decided to open source everything Cardboard related, letting others pick up the pieces instead.
"We think that an open source model - with additional contributions from us - is the best way for developers to continue to build experiences for Cardboard," Jeffrey Chan, product manager for AR and VR at Google wrote in an official announcement.
"Contributions from us" can mean anything from 'free Pixels for all developers' to 'kind words and encouragement.' Here, it seems to be somewhere in between, with Google's first pledge being an SDK package for Unity.
But for now, what Google is offering is significant. It includes all the libraries you need to build apps for both iOS and Android devices, as well as APIs for head tracking, lens distortion rendering and input handling. It's even throwing in an Android QR code library, meaning that any VR software can be paired with a headset without needing to go via the somewhat neglected Cardboard app.
This neglect is acknowledged by Chan in the blog post, but the company wants to keep it alive as a low-cost VR solution for those who can't go dropping £400 on an Oculus Quest at the drop of a hat.
"While we've seen overall usage of Cardboard decline over time and we're no longer actively developing the Google VR SDK, we still see consistent usage around entertainment and education experiences, like YouTube and Expeditions, and want to ensure that Cardboard's no-frills, accessible-to-everyone approach to VR remains available," he wrote.
If you're interested in developing Cardboard apps, your first port of call should be the developer documentation, which you can find here. Once you've got your head around that, you can grab all the source code at the Cardboard GitHub repo. µ
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