Google to Cardboard developers: Keep it short and simple, and watch out for nausea

Google Cardboard experiences should be the duration of traditional YouTube videos, said a Google executive

Google's Cardboard device for virtual reality applications, unveiled at Google I/O in 2014.

Google's Cardboard device for virtual reality applications, unveiled at Google I/O in 2014.

Developers creating content for Google's Cardboard virtual-reality system should look to short online videos for inspiration and avoid drawn-out experiences.

Content for Cardboard should be "snackable virtual reality," said Jon Wiley, the product's principal designer, during the I/O developer conference on Friday.

"For Cardboard, you want [an experience] to be more like traditional YouTube content," he said, adding that Google's VR platform isn't really designed for "long duration experiences."

Google sees Cardboard as a device that friends can pass around to get a feel for what VR is all about, said Manuel Clement , a user experience designer on Google's virtual reality team. In that context, shorter content would work better.

While Google's rivals in VR and augmented reality have built polished, sleek headsets, don't expect Cardboard to get a high-end makeover any time soon.

"Part of the magic of Cardboard is the simplicity of the system," said Wiley, adding that Google may look to simplify the platform even more.

Although Cardboard is just a simple box with a plastic lens and a smartphone pushed inside, it can still provide a great experience if developers don't push beyond its limits, Wiley said. Developing apps that are too complex or sophisticated will exceed its capabilities.

To incorporate virtual reality into their apps, Google recommends developers start small and consider how introducing a 3D component will make their program better.

Allowing people to tour a house in 3D instead of just viewing a photo gallery would give a real estate app an advantage, said Erica Morse, a Cardboard user experience designer.

Developers must also remember that VR content can make people feel disoriented, so they need to take into account the physiological response to what people see, said Alex Faaborg, who works on the virtual reality design team. That means creating apps that allow the display and the person's body to work together.

Apps should maintain a stable horizon line, and head tracking needs to remain engaged so people can navigate environments smoothly. Uneven acceleration can lead to nausea, and if developers can't create seamless transitions, Faaborg suggests fading to black, or using audio to help with the transition to a new scene.

Some users might just hold Cardboard in front of their faces because they don't know they can move their head around to explore a virtual setting. To get people more engaged, developers could place an object off to the side so that users are encouraged to turn their gaze, he said.

And developers should think visually about displaying information, Faaborg said. If an app features a spaceship that's sustained heavy damage, don't use a bar graph to convey the information; show the damage on the ship's wing.

To help developers build VR apps, Google created Cardboard Design Studio, an app that explains both simple and advanced techniques.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applicationsGooglesoftware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?