Long before Google introduced Daydream and subsequently left it dead in the water, the company created the Cardboard platform. You can use the carton headsets as an ultra-low-budget entry to VR to this day, and they’re compatible with almost any regularly shaped phone on the market. Google has now open-sourced the underlying VR SDK which will allow interested developers to create their own VR experiences on Cardboard viewers and improve and enhance the project as they see fit.
Google says that it still wants to contribute to the project and plans to release a Unity SDK package, but it hasn’t actively developed the Google VR SDK for some time already. Still, it sees “consistent usage around entertainment and education experiences,” so it didn’t want to shut down the platform altogether. Google states that “an open source model will enable the community to continue to improve Cardboard support and expand its capabilities, for example adding support for new smartphone display configurations and Cardboard viewers as they become available.”
Open-sourcing the project to keep it alive is a better move than just shuttering it altogether, and it’s in line with Google’s vision for the platform. It has always wanted it to be open and accessible. The VR headset’s hardware specifications have been open-sourced a long time ago, allowing third-party manufacturers to create their own Cardboards. Similarly, the open-source VR view platform that enabled VR and Cardboard experiences on the web has been around since 2016.