08/11/2018No Comments

5 Reasons why I love the Google Cardboard

The Google Cardboard, an entry level VR headset, has been around for a few years now. There's even a Cardboard 2 now too. Slot in your Android smartphone and away you go! But while many will see this as an undesirable piece of landfill junk, I disagree!

Here are my top 5 reasons why I love the Google Cardboard....

1. Any modern Android smart phone will work.

That’s right, you don’t need the latest Samsung S9 or Google Pixel 3 to have VR fun. For years most Android smart phones have had the hardware required for VR. OK some modern games and apps won’t work on old phones, but that’s not a fault with VR.

2. The price.

For a whopping sum of £6 you can buy a Google Cardboard 2. I’ve bought more expensive coffees before! That makes it almost an impulse buy, especially when compared to the £100s to buy a Oculus Rift, or HTC Vive! But the price point isn’t just great for consumers, it’s also great for marketing and PR. When launching a product, service or brand, the Google Cardboard offers a very cheap and easy solution to engage with an audience through VR.

3. Customise it.

It’s cardboard, so there’s really not excuse not to customise it! Stick some branding onto the headset, make it your own, and you have something that will stick in folks minds. Again great for marketing and PR.

4. It's recyclable.

Single use and none recyclable plastics are hot topics for discussion right now, and rightly so. The Google Cardboard is obviously very recyclable, which means even the most eco conscious of folk will have a hard time turning one down!

5. It’s a pocket rocket.

And lastly, the Google Cardboard is small. OK you’d struggle to fit it into your trendy skinny jeans, but you certainly wouldn’t notice it in your bag. And that’s one of the things I love about mobile VR. It doesn’t rely on a massive headset, sensors, and a beast of a PC. Personally I’ve taken the Google Cardboard to meetings and networking events and also to friends and family houses too.

Finally

Making tech accessible to the masses is ultimately what makes something mainstream. The Oculus Rift, Vive and others, are great, but they’re not something that’s mainstream yet. They’re expensive, require powerful PCs, and will likely be outdated in a year or two too. Unless your serious about gaming, then you probably don’t own one.

The Google Cardboard isn’t the greatest VR kit out there. It lacks the visual quality of the high end headsets, it’s uncomfortable to wear, and it’s usability isn’t fantastic. However what it does  brilliantly is it makes VR accessible to almost anyone. We’ve all seen the YouTube clips of Grandma falling off the sofa whilst being chased by a VR dinosaur. And although these experiences are small, and even funny, they are helping to make VR mainstream and socially acceptable.

Google Cardboard also fits perfectly into the Punch Digital philosophy by keeping things as simple as possible. By using the hardware already in our pockets is a massive plus, and the ease of use once you've slipped your phone the Cardboard is pretty neat too.

I still think VR has a long way to go before it’s in everyone’s house, but by taking small steps, with tech such as the Google Cardboard, and even the Gear VR or Daydream, I believe VR has a strong future.

Dean

01/04/2016No Comments

360° Video Gives us a View into Pre-historic Life!

360° video gives us a view into pre-historic life!

360° video is on the rise, and it's becoming a fascinating way to engage with viewers. The technology is very new, and as such people don't quite know the best way to use it, or even produce it, but this 360° video is one of the best examples I have seen so far. David Attenborough stars in the video where a giant dinosaur appears to walk past him, but the beauty of using a 360° video is that it allows the viewer to look around and really feel like you're there.

The video is hosted on Youtube, which is brilliant as it's accessible on PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones, so go ahead and watch the video.

If you're on a PC use the mouse to click and drag on the video to look around, and if you're on a phone or tablet, hold the device up and turn around (and ignore the odd look from others!).

If you're using a smart phone and the YouTube app you may have noticed this symbol in the bottom right corner...

google cardboard vr headset 360 interactive

When watching the video on your phone, clicking this button will make the video will split in 2, which allows the user to strap on their VR headset, such as the Google Cardboard or Gear VR and fully immerse themselves in the 360° video, brilliant right? OK it might take some time to get use to viewing content this way, but it is fun, trust me!

Anyway, back to the video. In my opinion what this video does, which other 360° videos perhaps haven't quite mastered yet, is the ability to direct the views whilst telling a story. Other  360° videos they can be visually great, but not really engaging or have any purpose. Take for example the Star Wars 360° video; it looks great, and ties in well with the movie release, but it really doesn't tell a story, and as such it doesn't engage with the viewer. You don't know where you should be looking, and as CGI nerd I find myself picking apart the 3D and finding errors, which if I was engaged I may not initially notice. Others might simply just stop the video after 10 seconds, either way it hasn't fully reached its potential.

When we create 360° videos we will have to be very mindful to engage the viewers. With 360° videos the user can look anywhere, so directing the viewers without being forceful will be the key to a successful video. Creating beautiful videos and CGI won't be enough, and although the technical challenge to create visually great videos is the first hurdle, it wont be long before 360° videos are mainstream, and we'll see where content and story telling really set the good and bad videos apart.

360° videos, I hope, are here to stay, and only time will tell just how successful and useful they can be. We're working on plans and ideas to bring 360° videos to our services, we're already experts in creating virtual environments, so the next step is to take our expertise from 2D images and animations to 360° videos and other virtual reality content. We've already tested the Google Cardboard and YouTube 360° video with this little interior apartment test, and we have plans to create something quite exciting, so watch this space!

Dean

 

11/11/2015No Comments

360 Degree Video Test – 3D Interior Apartment

Earlier this year YouTube made it possible to upload 360 degree videos! If you don't know what they are, 360 videos enable the viewer to look around the space, as if they were there, whilst the video is playing!

I wanted to see what the possibilities could be for CGI and 3D rendered environments, I'm always interested in new tech, and different ways of doing things, so it made sense to spend some time investigating, testing and developing.

The video below is the test video I produced. It's a very simple interior room set, with a basic camera movement forwards and backwards, but that's all I need for this test. When you play the video it will play just like a normal YouTube video, however if you click and drag (if you're on a PC browser) on the video you'll be able to look around the 3D environment! Give it a go....

The video can also be viewed on Youtube here.

If however you are viewing the video on the YouTube app on your smart phone (I have a HTC One M8), then hold the camera as if taking a picture of a wall, and move the phone to look around! It really is quite amazing!!

However the fun doesn't stop there, whilst in the YouTube app, you'll possibly see the Google Cardboard logo, and if you have a Google Cardboard (if you don't, jump on Amazon and order one for around £15!), click the Cardboard logo, and now you can view the video in the Google Cardboard head set!

Google Cardboard VR Headset Interactive

The Google Cardboard.

So what does this all this mean? Creating demos like this are always extremely valuable to do, they allow me to test, experiment, fail and play with something new and exciting, and that's half of the reason why I love the industry I work in!

But does it have any practical future applications? I'm sure when it comes to presenting content to users, more immersive and engaging content is going to be a massive plus to any project. I don't see why an architect couldn't use a 360 degree video to present their new building, or instructors aid their students with more engaging training, or even being able to watch a theatre performance as if stood in the centre of the stage!

The possibilities are endless! Of course there has to be a purpose to using 360 videos, in some applications it just wouldn't add anything, but in many situations I see the potential use of 360 videos to push video and user engagement to the next level!

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