15The future is certainly exciting, at least to me. Not only will we likely be 3D printing a large portion of the objects we use every day, but in the next decade, virtual reality will allow us to escape to new worlds, both real and imaginative, simply by placing a pair of glasses over our eyes.

For years, futurists have been predicting the coming of the VR age.  Unfortunately most of us feel a bit let down. The technology has not developed as quickly as many of us may had envisioned, partially because of a lack of content, and partially because the technology itself for a fluid VR experience hasn’t been available. Google seems to be about to change all this, by not only providing the blueprints for simple, affordable hardware, but also for a complete end to end content creation solution which makes up a new platform they call ‘Jump’.

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Google already has a massive reach within the video space with YouTube, and clearly sees virtual reality as the future interface for a variety of important applications. All they needed to do was to figure out a way to bring the hardware, software, and video repository (YouTube) all together.

Late last week at Google I/O, the company announced, in unison with GoPro, the Jump platform. Jump is more than simply a 360-degree VR camera rig. It’s an entire ecosystem which promises to turn just about anyone into a VR content creator, whether they opt to purchase the 360-degree camera rig that GoPro will be offering, or if they want to create their own rig via a 3D printer.13

“So, the rigs that we built include 16 camera modules, mounted in a circular array. And you can actually use off the shelf cameras for this if you want, stated Clay Bavor, Google’s vice president of product. “And you can make the array out of basically any material. We’ve made one out of 3D-printed plastic, one out of machined metal, and for good measure, of course, we also made one out of cardboard. What’s critical is the actual geometry, and we spent a lot of time optimizing everything. Basically, Google did all the math for you. The size of the rig, the number and placement of the cameras, their field of view, relative overlap — every last detail.”

Jump will officially be launching this summer, at which time Google plans to release to the public the plans and the necessary geometries required for anyone to build the rig themselves. Once constructed, or if the user opts to purchase the GoPro rig instead, Google’s software will automatically stitch together the video taken from all 16 cameras and allow the video to then be uploaded to YouTube so that others can step into the virtual world that you just filmed.

Certainly this won’t be for everyone, as 16 GoPro cameras certainly are not cheap, but this initiative by Google and GoPro will likely spark an explosion of content which is compatible with the virtual reality space, and hopefully ignite innovation and speed up the development of the technology as well.

Will you be 3D printing your own VR camera rig once Google’s new platform is rolled out? Let us know your thoughts on all of this in the Google Jump forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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