It’s amazing how far a humble piece of cardboard can go. Like 10 million units.
Google announced that it had shipped 10 million pieces of Cardboard VR, a literal cardboard headwear that lets people experience virtual reality. Amit Singh, Vice President of VR, made the announcement onstage before the audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
Cardboard VR was launched in 2014 as Google’s tongue-in-cheek response to more expensive VR headwear from rivals like Oculus. One basic Cardboard VR usually costs $10-$15.
Google Cardboard VR
In a separate blog post reiterating his speech at this year’s MWC, Singh revealed the 10-million mark milestone. He proudly described the Cardboard as something that takes you to “faraway lands” or even to a “guided tour of the solar system.”
Google Cardboard VR is a do-it-yourself piece of technology: simple, easy-to-assemble, foldable virtual reality gear with a headmount and viewer piece. To use it, you need a smartphone with Google Android OS. You must download the Cardboard app from Google Play. According to Singh, there has been a total of 160 million downloads of Cardboard apps, with 30 of those apps getting downloaded more than 1 million times.
Singh discussed that VR technology isn’t exclusively a domain of gaming anymore. It is also for immersive and “amazing entertainment experiences.” His statement reflected Google’s shifting focus toward VR tech, especially the expansion of its Daydream platform (on which Cardboard apps run.)
“We’ve built Daydream with lessons learned from Cardboard. It’s more comfortable, interactive, and immersive; as a result, people are spending more time using it — about 40 minutes per week. With six Daydream-ready phones and 100 Daydream apps to explore, there are lots of devices and experiences to choose from,” Singh wrote.
Eyes Set On The Future Of Entertainment
Google VR has its focus on using VR as mobile entertainment. Singh reveled in the fact that people loved watching videos in VR, with video-watching getting the top category on Daydream apps. YouTube, which is owned by Google, has thousands of 360-videos viewable via VR. The goal now is to provide more premium content tailored specifically for VR viewing.
Its commitment toward VR entertainment is reflected via Sky VR, Google’s video content streaming / subscription model with partners such as Hulu, HBO and Netflix. The Sky App lets Cardboard users watch 360-videos like Disney’s Jungle Book and Star Wars: Red Carpet.
Google is also focusing on another “reality,” which is AR or augmented reality. Tango is Google’s AR platform and Singh happily announced that games such as simulator The Sims, football game Chelsea Kicker and stocks tracker WSJ AR are playable using Tango.