Who’s doing 3D on their phones? Only half a million Cardboard users, that’s all
LG Optimus 3D, HTC EVO 3D: time was, if you wanted to view 3D content on your phone, that meant picking up a special smartphone with an autosteroscopic display. Except, as the lack of subsequent models like those should indicate, people weren’t picking them up. But a few years later the situation has changed, and now the hot thing with 3D is pairing your regular-old 2D smartphone display with a set of lenses for an up-close-and-personal 3D experience. That’s what Samsung’s Gear VR does, but before that there was Google Cardboard, the no-frills DIY option to turn your handset into a mini 3D viewer. Since its launch this past summer we’ve seen plenty of commercial products arrive to deliver Cardboard-style viewers with a bit more polish, and today Google not only announces that Cardboard (or Cardboard-compatible) adoption has hit 500,000 users, but that it’s further committing to more VR goodness.
For devs, that means the release of a new Cardboard SDK, helping them to design software ready to take full advantage of 3D viewers. Google’s also updating the specs on how to build Cardboard-style hardware, making it easier for viewers to be constructed from various materials. And to help compensate for slight differences in all these products, Cardboard will be picking up new calibration tools in 2015.
Finally, Google wants additional minds helping it explore this brave new world of phone-based VR, and is actively hiring staff to work on projects like Cardboard. While Cardboard may have started off as a bit of a low-key aside at Google I/O, it looks like this snowball is really starting to pick up speed and grow to boulder size; if you haven’t yet, you may well find yourself experimenting with 3D on your phone in the very near future.