Google is bringing virtual reality to the classroom, and will soon let anyone capture their own VR video. At Google I/O 2015, VP of Product Clay Bavor introduced a new version of the company's do-it-yourself kit for turning a smartphone into a VR headset, a virtual reality platform for schools, and a new camera rig that will allow users to create their own immersive videos.
Expeditions is Google's new virtual reality platform for classrooms, which will allow teachers to take students on field trips without having them leave their desks. Using Expeditions, teachers can select a virtual location on their tablet, and have every youngster in the room transported there instantly via their own Google Cardboard VR headset.
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Google Cardboard itself is getting an upgrade, as well. Bavor announced that the new blueprint for the make-your-own headset is now 6 inches wide to accommodate bigger phones, and it has a redesigned function button designed to work with a wider range of devices. The design has also been simplified so that the viewer can be built in just three steps. If you'd rather not build your own, third-party Cardboard viewer makers will support the new standard. Apple fans can now get in the action with a new Cardboard app for iOS.
Rounding out Google's trio of VR announcements is Jump, an ambitious creation tool coming this summer that will let users capture virtual reality video. Jump consists of a rig that supports 16 cameras in a circular formation, as well as a special assembler tool that stitches together images from all of the capture devices. GoPro will produce its own custom camera array, which will support 16 of the company's Hero4 action cameras. Bavor said that Google will make its assembler computing power "available to select creators" of VR content.
Google says that Jump uses 3D alignment technology to create seamless 3D images without borders or breaks. Jump content will be supported by YouTube this summer, where anyone with a VR-ready device, such as Cardboard, can view the video in virtual reality.
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Google Cardboard is accommodating larger phones... and so are third-party businesses. There are awesome third-party VR headsets out there. I'm especially looking forward to the Powis ViewR at http://powiscustom.com/products/powis-viewr. It's nicely designed, and it has dual adjustable lenses... which is perfect for me since my eyesight varies in each eye.