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Google open-sources Cardboard to keep mobile VR alive

The signs that Google Daydream View wasn’t doing that brilliantly have been there for a while. Things looked rocky when the Pixel 3a wasn’t supported, and that was confirmed when it was abandoned for the flagship Pixel 4. Daydream VR is dead – but that doesn’t mean Google has completely given up on mobile virtual reality.

Before Daydream, there was Cardboard – virtual reality headsets that could be made from kits to provide a VR experience at a fraction of the cost of an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. And now Google has seen fit to open-source Cardboard’s software to allow third parties to continue building on the platform.

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We think that an open source model – with additional contributions from us – is the best way for developers to continue to build experiences for Cardboard,” wrote Jeffrey Chan, product manager for AR and VR at Google

The “contributions from us” sentiment is crucial, and Chan offered one example of this: an SDK package for Unity.

The libraries Google is releasing include everything needed to build apps for Cardboard in both iOS and Android. APIs for head tracking, lens distortion rendering and input handling are being open sourced, and the company is also throwing in an Android QR code library, meaning that software can pair with headsets without needing the dedicated Cardboard app.

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We’ve already seen success with this approach with our Cardboard Manufacturer Kit—an open source project to enable third-party manufacturers to design and build their own unique compatible VR viewers—and we’re excited to see where the developer community takes Cardboard in the future,” wrote Chan.

Anyone interested in developing Cardboard apps should check out the developer documentation here, and then visit the Cardboard GitHub repo for the source code.

Does this interest you, or have you lost faith in mobile VR experiences? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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