Since making my own Google Cardboard I have been looking at how I can put my own content into it.
My DIY google cardboard
The easiest and quickest way is to take a full 360 panorama photo (known as a photosphere) using the Google Camera app, which appears automatically if you have a google device, or can now be downloaded from the app store onto any android device.
Google Camera App Screenshot
This is a really quick and interesting image to view in the Google Cardboard viewer, you select it from the list when you turn the google cardboard app on, it then takes you straight through to your last photosphere image.
It’s very eerie viewing a fully immersive scene – and it really works well – when not in that particular place. The first shot I took was of my office and when I viewed it back on different occasions found it quite disorientating as the day I shot it, it was sunny, so to put myself into that moment on a cloudy day, and it to be so lifelike, when you ‘came out’ of it, it was quite impressive.
360 photosphere in my office
It’s not perfect, I actually have two computers and screens on my desk, but because of the limitations of the camera/app/360 capability, it appears I only have one as a portion has been overlapped so much, but, on the whole, it really puts you there, in the other space. The google cardboard photo viewer automatically works out the side by side bi-ocular view and the refresh rate when turning round is practically real time, I didn’t notice any lag whatsoever.
When I showed this to my children (my testers for anything), they thought it was great and wanted to take photospheres in every room, so that they could sit in a different room and view the other room… I 360’d our kitchen and they then wanted to show all their friends that they could be ‘in the kitchen’ whilst anywhere else in the house. Great fun.
It’s very effective, but, I want to do 360 video.
S0, investigating this and I come across a wonderful app (to be used with google cardboard) made by a very clever company called Jaunt, featuring a song with Paul McCartney where not only have they produced 360 video which you can look all around, but the sound is also 360… Put on a good pair of headphones, download this app and see the future of music videos!
But how would I replicate this, on a budget and without access to the latest gizmos…?
Go Pano produce a large and expensive option of a lens add on to a pro camera, costing $500, but, I have found they also do a micro version for just $29, which a uk company sell for £24 (http://www.red-door.co.uk/pages/productpages/gopano-micro-iphone.html) which is a great price and will help me experiment, but it will only fit onto an iPhone 4, 4s and 5, which I don’t have and seems to be no update for, so leads me to believe it’s not very good or not very popular, so I’d need to get my hands on a phone pretty soon to trial it.
Fortunately from their purchase page they have a link to users own uploaded 360 videos, this one was my favourite http://www.gopano.com/video/MTM2NzI these guys have so much energy and are really having fun with the 360 video and because it’s in a fixed position it works well, this video of a walkaround behind the scenes of a red bull bike day, shows the problem with holding the device, http://www.gopano.com/video/MjE1MDk, look behind you and there’s a giant arm! One more video which shows a shortcoming of this lovely little device, which has big ideas, but I’m not sure the output is up to high quality standard, is an acoustic music piece, and if you look around you can very clearly see dirty marks, or dinks in the reflective surface, which greatly affects the quality of the video, which also seems a little soft and I’m not sure if that is because the versions of iphone that it works with don’t have great video quality anyway… http://www.gopano.com/video/MjIzNTE
So I could for about £100 get some 360 video, but I would love to make it slightly interactive, such as in the FiBrum VR Rollercoaster, where to make the experience start you have to concentrate your view on a red lever which starts the ride.
Fibrum Rollercoaster App Screenshot
I also don’t know if you can view this type of 360 video in Google Cardboard, this article has some good references
Taken from http://www.chioka.in/tag/google-cardboard/
Devices that can capture (360) degrees panorama:
GoPano – A special lens attachable to iPhone that allows you to take panoramas and panoramic videos. It works by having a 360 degree lens and bend the light into the iPhone camera. Works for iPhone only. 360 degrees horizontally only.
Kageto – A company manufacturing the Dot, Lucy, and Jo. They are successive versions of a special lens attachable to iPhone or Android to take panoramas and panoramic videos. Similar to GoPano, 360 degrees horizontally only.
BubbleScope – Another attachable lens to iPhone for capturing panoramas and panoramic videos. Similar to GoPano, 360 degrees horizontally only.
I need to follow through a few leads from these links, then I need to look at software that can take in 360 degree video and make it interactive and output it in a form that Google Cardboard can use, but it looks like it is possible, this firm make a SDK which, currently, is free to play with, again more reading required in the depths of the small type to see what file types they are compatible with… http://www.panframe.com/
So yes you can take 360 video – with a small budget – with a few limitations, but good enough to test my proof of concept for interactive live 360 video, when my Go Pano Micro turns up, I’ll report back.
I decided to go for the Go Pano as the video from the Bubblescope looks particularly poor on first glance and the Kogeto seems to be very proprietary and I haven’t been able to find any video to view – as yet. But as an aside, both of these 360 add ons have the attachment flat to the phone, so you cannot get rid of the black box of the phone in the resulting video, see bubblescope still below.