Yesterday was the kick off of Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O. While there has yet to be an announcement involving Google’s incorporation of Magic Leap, there was some exciting news.
Surrounded by a continuous curved display, Sundar Pichai, Senior VP of Product announced that the conference would “shift gears and take a look ahead…talk about the future of computing.” As he spoke, Pichai was encircled by a panoramic view of the Icebergs of Greenland, illustrating a shift from what we know today, a black rectangular display, to what we will know, an immersive world full of richness, depth, color and glory.
Before unveiling what we would see next, Pichai briefly summarized Google’s passion for capturing the real world, recapping their projects in Google Street View to the introduction of Google Cardboard at last year’s conference.
Then it was time for Clay Bavor, Google’s VP of Product Management, to take the stage. Bavor spoke about the approachability of Google Cardboard and how it has grown to over a million viewers worldwide. He noted how its diverse set of apps and manufacturers is helping shape the future of the Google Cardboard.
Bavor laid out the presentation in three announcements, starting with the Viewer and Cardboard SDK.
Cardboard Viewer & SDK
Bavor announced that Viewer would now be accommodating phones with screens up to 6 inches. Changes been made to shorten assembly (and disassembly) to three steps and a universal input button allows Cardboard to work with any phone. The Cardboard SDK was also updated to incorporate iOS software.
Google then announced their breakthrough to revolutionize how students experience field trips, known as Expeditions. In the announcement, Google explained how, through this new technology, students will be able to do things we never could in school, like visit the moon and see underwater worlds.
While Expeditions is not the Magic School Bus, it is an excellent tool to enable learning. Students will be paired with the hardware they need to transform the world around them (Viewer + Device) and teachers will be paired with the capabilities (Synced Tablet) to lead out-of-this-world expeditions.
Saving the best for last, Google announced Jump, a way to capture and share real world experiences in an entirely new way. Jump offers a three-part system (Camera Geometry, Assembler, and Player) that allows video creators to share the world around them.
First, Google unveiled an open source rig, built to house 12 GoPro cameras. Differing from GoPro’s own rig unveiled at ReCode, Google’s system looks more like a roulette wheel than a mallet. The system uses 16 cameras, aligned precisely in a circular pattern to provide synced spherical content.
Assembler takes footage from these 16 camera inputs and stitches them together to map the in-between viewpoints and synthesize the final image. The software also performs global color calibration and exposure calculations before utilizing an algorithm to identify and separate out blended objects. It is worth noting that Google caveats the availability of the Jump Assembler, stating that this Summer it would be available to “select creators worldwide.”
YouTube + Jump
Who will become the YouTube of Virtual Reality has been a popular question in the industry, and unsurprisingly, the answer is YouTube. Starting immediately, YouTube will share non-stereoscopic contented intended for use with Google Cardboard. By the Summer, Google also promises full VR content on YouTube.
We thought it would be worth reaching out to Vrideo, an LA based startup who captured attention from ReCode in March under the headline Vrideo Wants to Be the YouTube for Virtual Reality. When reached for comment, Alex Rosenfeld, Vrideo Founder & CEO, had this to say: “In our view, every time another major technology player – whether it’s Google/YouTube, GoPro, Samsung, Sony, Valve, or anyone else – throws their weight behind immersive video and VR, that’s a great thing. We anticipate that, similar to online video… there will be many winning platforms in immersive video.”
It will be interesting to see how everything shakes out so be sure to check back this afternoon as many are speculating that augmented reality may make an appearance. Additional VR panels will be held the second day of Google I/O as well (Designing for Virtual Reality).