Mix together a piece of cardboard, a couple of lenses, and a smartphone, and what do you get? Would you believe me if the answer was a trip to Mars, to fair Verona, the Great Wall of China, even the Great Barrier Reef?
That is precisely what Google Cardboard has achieved with the launch of Expeditions, VR software developed for the classroom that allows kids to visit hundreds of places all over the world (and beyond).
Sold as a 30-phone/cardboard kit that comes with a tablet for the teacher who behaves as tour guide, Expeditions makes VR easy, accessible, super cool and, ultimately, educational instead of recreational.
“Not only is it made of cardboard, we also deliberately called it Cardboard,” said Clay Bavor, a VP of Product for Google during the Google I/O keynote this year. “It’s not meant as a joke. We just wanted to say, ‘Hey, it’s just cardboard,’ you know? Anyone can get into it.”
(Like this guy, for example, who proposed to his girlfriend with the help of the VR kit.)
This will be the second generation Cardboard and new features include compatibility with any smartphone and devices with up to a 6-inch display. During the keynote Google also dropped a new Jump platform, which allows anyone to create and share his or her VR experiences. A partnership with GoPro produced a 16 camera circular rig capable of shooting beautiful 360 3D videos in high resolution. Cooler yet, Jump comes to YouTube soon, bringing VR to the mainstream in the most digestible and accessible way yet.
Expeditions, however, remains the most revolutionary aspect of Cardboard. Watching the video Google debuted featuring children in the classroom in complete awe of what they saw brought tears to my eyes. What better way to spark the imagination and capacity of cultural understanding in future generations than this? “This is not the end of our ambitions,” says Bavor. “We have plans far beyond what we showed.”