Today’s Lytro Immerge announcement isn’t the only big piece of news in the cinematic VR world, YouTube just announced support for stereoscopic 3D 360º video, or “VR video.” Previously, the company had supported only standard monoscopic 360º video.
In addition to announcing VR video support, YouTube announced that it was making every one of its videos compatible with Google Cardboard. The videos will play in a “kind of virtual movie theater” all users have to do is select the Cardboard icon and pop their phone into one of the Cardboard viewers.
Google and YouTube’s timing on this could not be any more perfect. This weekend, the New York Times is shipping over one million Google Cardboards to its subscribers. Each of those subscribers will be directed to a special companion documentary piece on the refugee crisis in the NYTVR app, but after that what is the average joe going to do?
Full Cardboard support for YouTube gives the hundreds of thousands of people that will receive a Cardboard who have next to no idea what VR is a treasure trove of accessible content. It potentially gives people a reason to keep using their free headsets beyond the initial onboarding experience.
Additionally this move means big things for Cinematic VR content creators, who now have a mass audience platform to showcase their work. Startups looking to be the “YouTube of VR,” like VRideo and Littlstar, however, might not be feeling as happy about this news as it strips away another layer of competitive advantage that they still held over the streaming giant.