Google Debuts Interactive VR Photography App 'Cardboard Camera' on iOS

Google today announced the launch of Cardboard Camera for iOS, which lets users "capture 3D 360-degree virtual reality photos" without the need for technical VR equipment. Photos taken with the app are three-dimensional panoramas in which users can tap and drag to look around "in all directions," with sound recording the moment the photo is taken that plays back each time the image is revisited.

cardboard-camera
A few examples of Cardboard Camera's interactive panoramas

Cardboard Camera uses a similar photography style as panoramas in the iOS camera app: users simply hold their iPhone vertically, tap the record button, then rotate slowly in place to capture their surroundings. Users will also be able to share albums filled with VR photos directly within the app by generating links to email, text message, or share on social media.
Whether you’re hiking on the Olympic Peninsula or attending your cousin’s wedding, go beyond the flat photo or selfie. With Cardboard Camera—now available on iOS as well as Android—you can capture 3D 360-degree virtual reality photos. Just like Google Cardboard, it works with the phone you already have with you.
The company said that if any of the VR photos taken with Cardboard Camera are viewed on Google Cardboard, anyone "can relive those moments as if they were there." Previously, Cardboard Camera was available on Android, with more than 5 million photos captured on the platform.

On iOS, users can download Cardboard Camera on the App Store for free. [Direct Link]



Top Rated Comments

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34 months ago
3D panoramic photos with sound. Apple, why it's Google and not you?
It should be a feature of standard Camera/Photos apps.
Rating: 9 Votes
Avatar
34 months ago

3D panoramic photos with sound. Apple, why it's Google and not you?
It should be a feature of standard Camera/Photos apps.


Why does Apple need to be first with everything? Competition on a level playing field is good. I wonder which platform this performs better on? More consistently? Was easier to develop? iOS or Android?


QuickTime supported spherical VR back in 90's. It was a cool feature.



Apple indeed had this DECADES ago, with QuickTimeVR (QTVR), cylinder (then later) spherical interactive panos, with directional sound, and hotspots that you could click to go to URLs, embed audio commentary, additional connected panos...

Sadly, just before releasing all the great touch-enabled iOS tech that would be perfect for QTVR, Apple killed it off/let it die. (Key personnel left and joined Google, from what I can recall)

I still wish Apple had continued QTVR development, and included basic QTVR tools with iPhoto/Photos, and Pro-level QTVR features in Aperture.

Sigh.

I still have all my old QTVR gear and SW...



apple.com/feedback
Rating: 4 Votes
Avatar
34 months ago
I just tried it. It does the same thing as Apple's panorama feature in the iPhone, but instead it goes all the way around 360° instead of 180°.
Also..... You can just save it to your camera roll.... but if you want to share it as a continuously connected spinning panorama, it gets uploaded to god knows where Google servers to be kept by them for eternity, with no option to allow you to delete it.
So in typical Google fashion, they're data mining the hell out of you.

Deleted
Rating: 3 Votes
Avatar
34 months ago

Why does Apple need to be first with everything? Competition on a level playing field is good. I wonder which platform this performs better on? More consistently? Was easier to develop? iOS or Android?

QuickTime supported spherical VR back in 90's. It was a cool feature.
Rating: 3 Votes
Avatar
34 months ago
I've really liked 360 Panorama, which lets you capture a full sphere and doesn't care which direction/pattern you take. But with Cardboard viewing, this one may tempt me away!
Rating: 2 Votes
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34 months ago

I only see it as 2 dimensions, you still can look up-down and left/right, but each eye gets the same image, so your brain can't guess what's closer/further.

The sample pano in the app with the fire has a clear 3D effect where the smoke is. And looking at images they are not the same, objects are shifted a bit left and right. There's some depth although not a big one.
Rating: 1 Votes
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34 months ago
Cardboard Camera is nothing short of magical in terms of what it can do, and has generated the most "wow" moments with people I've shown the images to since I installed it a few months ago on my Galaxy S6.

Glad to see it on iOS now, with the added sharing feature. Looking forward to putting it on my iOS devices.

It IS true stereo/3-D and there is some kind of algorithm being used to generate a stereo effect from a single camera. The panning creates a series of images from which the software senses depth. It would be nice if consumers were educated in the discernable differences between stereoscopic imagery and (to me) "fake" VR that is only flat 2-D 360 imagery. I won't touch any app or media with my Gear that's not "3-D"/stereoscopic.

It would be nice if more devices had glasses-free 3-D along the lines of HTC's Evo 3D display, for instance. Everyone who looked at it was blown away and would comment on how futuristic is was. Not perfect, but an added enhancement that could be switched off when not needed.

Now I don't need to carry around my old HTC Evo 3D or my Fuji W3 3D camera in order to generate some cool 3-D. It's a shame tech and consumers abandoned 3D. I think it's a necessary stepping stone to full acceptance of VR. After all, 2-D is only half the image.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
34 months ago

which lets users "capture 3D 360-degree virtual reality photos" without the need for technical VR equipment.


Unless there is some depth analysis going on, can someone explain how this is three-dimensional? Last I checked, it's still taken from one perspective, so while you can project it separator to each of your eyes in the cardboard app, I don't think it's giving a unique perspective to each eye.

As an aside, I've been using the Google Street View app to capture 360 degree (including up-down if you want to spend the extra time) panoramas. It's the best app I've ever used in 5 years of panorama apps, and saves the full images directly to your camera roll without any internet connection necessary. Also supports google cardboard, although no sounds. I highly recommend it! You can even pretend you have a fish eye camera by screenshotting the app, and post to Instagram for cool nerd credit!

Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
34 months ago

Apple indeed had this DECADES ago, with QuickTimeVR (QTVR), cylinder (then later) spherical interactive panos, with directional sound, and hotspots that you could click to go to URLs, embed audio commentary, additional connected panos...

Sadly, just before releasing all the great touch-enabled iOS tech that would be perfect for QTVR, Apple killed it off/let it die. (Key personnel left and joined Google, from what I can recall)

I still wish Apple had continued QTVR development, and included basic QTVR tools with iPhone/Photos, and Pro-level QTVR features in Aperture.

Sigh.

I still have all my old QTVR gear and SW...

apple.com/feedback

I had a CD including a super cool wired QTVR tour of Paris. With sound and photos and everything. It was bundled with one of the PowerBooks sold back then. Always was wondering if there were such disks for other cities.
Rating: 1 Votes
Avatar
34 months ago
Been really blown away with this app. It's the 3D from a 2D camera that is the most impressive.

For those asking above about the "3D": To explain a bit, (i think using the highest level terms?) it's using a photogrammetric process to pull depth as you rotate.

The way it works with more obvious apps is that you "move the camera all around" and it captures something with 3d depth, like a face or an object sitting on a table. There's a bunch of iOS apps that do this right now, and let you spin around the "object" in limited 3D afterwards while viewing.

With this, there's subtle variations in the distances between objects as you rotate, in relation to what the lens is capturing. Those small differences get calculated into depth data, and it uses that to simulate a 3D image. It look like it get tripped up on really complicated plant life or other super close/detailed things that are moving (like waves), but for what it's worth, it works pretty damned well and gives an impressive result.

If you view a scene with a cardboard, try closing one eye and then the other on some of the more obvious "3D" objects. You'll notice slight differences – one object overlapping another slightly more in one than the other. That's where the depth is created.
Rating: 1 Votes
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