Google’s Cardboard Camera for 3D Virtual Reality Photos


Today Google released an app “Cardboard Camera” for Android in the Play Store:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.vr.cyclops
A free app to create 3D virtual reality photos (stereoscopic 3D 360° panoramas).

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VR Photography

The app takes a three-dimensional panorama you can view in the Google Cardboard app. The result is a 360° image where near things look near, far things look far, and you can look in front of you, to your sides, or all the way behind you to see the entire captured scene. (The top and bottom parts of the image are blurred out.)

Screenshot_2015-12-03-13-51-56

To do this, the app has you move the phone horizontally to the right [slowly] in a complete (or partial) circle, and even records sound.

After you finish capturing a scene, a short minute of processing begins, then the app creates a normal jpeg pano to view in your standard Android gallery, but with an .vr extension prefixed (IMG_XYZ.vr.jpg). While still inside the app, you have the option to launch into cardboard vr to view.

IMG_20151203_132057.vr

The jpg pano itself doesn’t seem to contain any extra info… so how do they show a stereoscopic experience with sound in cardboard?

Hidden Metadata in Google Cardboard Camera

Well, If you have a look in the app’s private folder on your phone:

/data/data/com.google.vr.cyclops/cache/datasets/

you will see a bunch more metadata saved for each session.

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These include the input video to make the panos, and some cached data computed (presumably for the depth/stereo required to make two views). I imagine the other eye view is buried in one of those binary files.

I would like to know how to extract the hidden metadata (depth map and the other eye view), to view and play around with. If anyone knows or figures out how to do this, please let me know! Meanwhile I’ll see what I can find.

Side note and rant:

Finally, a decent panorama app! I could care less about the stereo feature… I just hate all panorama apps that take separate images, instead of continuously computing (using video) the result live! Surprisingly, Google’s own “Google Camera” app’s pano feature is horrible at keeping horizon lines straight! I wish they would port the video panoramic algorithms in Google Cardboard Camera to the Google Camera app, for continuous pano capture.

End rant.

 

Conclusion

The new app is pretty cool, and the resulting pictures look good.I just wish I could get access to all the data computed from the app. At the moment, I don’t really care too much for stereo images viewed in cardboard (cardboard sucks compared to gearvr), but I do think I found a great new panorama app!


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