Talking tech since 2003

At Google I/O this past summer, the company sent everyone home with Cardboard – a somewhat tongue-in-cheek take on virtual reality. By folding a piece of cardboard into a headset with a slot for a person’s phone, users can experience the world of mobile virtual reality without breaking the bank. But what seemed like kind of a joke seems to be growing into a legitimate tech venture for Google – and the company has announced a cool trick that might help you explore the world from the comfort of your couch.

On the Google+ page for Google Cardboard, there’s a new tip that tells users how to explore Google Maps in a virtual reality environment. All you need to do is find a spot on Maps, tap the Street View button, and then double-tap the “look around” button. Bam – the view will become stereoscopic and will move based on the position of the phone. If you’ve got your device plugged into a Cardboard headset, you’ll be able to take a virtual tour of any location you choose. It’s pretty damn cool – and a great little trick.

vr-streetview

This new tip comes hot on the heels of Google making its plans for Cardboard known via a blog post about a week ago. That includes new SDKs for Android and Unity development, which will alleviate some of the more onerous tasks of programming new VR apps – specifically “lens distortion correction, head tracking, and side-by-side rendering.” On top of that, Cardboard apps have their own dedicated section of the Google Play Store now, so you won’t have to work hard to find compatible virtual reality apps.

Cardboard headsets can be bought on the cheap from  DODOcaseI Am CardboardKnoxlabs, and Unofficial Cardboard (the last of which is where I ordered mine, still on the way). While the Samsung Gear VR may be the coolest and most advanced way to get virtual reality on the go, I think Cardboard is exactly the kind of low impact, low cost, high fun VR experience I want.

[Cardboard on Google+]

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