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Nice, helpful summary. For devs just starting to think about VR, I'd also highly recommend checking out Google's free Cardboard Design Lab app which has flown totally under the radar of most people. It's a surprisingly useful set of basic considerations for designing in VR and only takes 10 or 15 minutes to go through. You actually see each point in action through the lenses which can demonstrate much better than text or pictures (especially stuff like 'Don't put the interface too close or it will be uncomfortable). Very good for beginners, it introduces these topics:
If you have your own cardboard, you can test "Cardboard Design Lab" by Google, which introduce VR best practices:
There's actually a cardboard app that's a VR instruction (with demos) on how to develop for VR. More best practises than a full development guide, but a pretty cool idea (as it demonstrates how things are bad as it tells you). [link]
For real 3D geometry there should only be double vision for things that are close up, like very roughly 2' or closer. Cardboard Design Lab has some examples of what should be comfortable and what isn't in VR. Good VR design avoids having things get close enough that it'd cause a problem.
Stereo video has a fixed IPD that might not match yours, so double vision is often more of a problem there, but still it should only be for close up things.
Google has a small interactive course on making a good Google Cardboard VR app. The principles can apply to any VR though really.
Cardboard Design Lab is the app I use to showcase Cardboard to first timers. It uses spatial sound so you need to use ear buds to fully appreciate it.
Cardboard Design Lab is intended to provide UI guidelines to developers but the second section, Immersion, is also just a cool experience. It's really fun watching people ooh and ahh over it.
Actually, we've implemented this feature according to Google's UX guidelines for VR apps. You can check Google's demo app and see that they propose to use similar "light" navigation markers. We decided that map pins will look better in our environment (they have somewhat cartoon-ish look).
The method isn't exactly new, something similar is used in the Cardboard Design Lab app, Google gave a talk about it ("Delivering VR for Everyone on Everyday Phones"), and the basic functionality found its way into [Cardboard SDK 0.7.0](/r/GoogleCardboard/comments/4cmsxy/cardboard_sdk_for_unity_v070_released_xpost/d1jqt3q). It isn't universally applicable and requires increasing the polygon count while at the same time reducing the number of rendering passes to make up for it. The approach can provide a significant performance gain for Cardboard apps, and as the article introduces the (rather technical) subject in an understandable way, hopefully more developers start using it to improve their VR apps.
More info on the ustwo developer blog:
Awhile back Google open sourced Cardboard Design Lab for Google Cardboard. In that app, I was amazed by the forest scene created by UsTwo. As my first project learning to create VR experiences on Unity, I wanted to bring the forest into SteamVR so I could explore using motion controllers on HTC Vive. Users can now teleport around the forest by pressing the track pad button. There are meshes missing in areas users weren't able to see in the original GoogleCardboard app. However, I was satisfied with the overall experience and wanted to share with others that own the HTC Vive.
If you own a HTC Vive, you can try it out yourself by downloading it here: [link]
If you own a Google Cardboard, you can try the original app here: [link]
Lastly, you can find the open source code for Cardboard Design Lab here: [link]
Less interesting than I hoped, if you've seen the Oculus Best Practices Guide, you've seen it all with much more details. If you haven't, running through the Google Design Lab app demonstrating ten VR design principles (also listed in the description) will be a faster and funnier introduction than the 42 min presentation. [If you both view the talk and test the app: I actually missed the owl, because I didn't look into the fire. So much for principle six.]
As usually Google emphasize that Cardboard cannot handle full VR experiences, so they recommend very simple and short experiences, avoiding sudden movements etc. During the GDC they called it "bite-sized VR", this time it was "snack-sized VR". The usual VR recommendations were given again: objects at comfortable viewing distance, avoid situations that would feel uncomfortable in real life, constant head tracking and high FPS have the highest priority etc.
It was interesting how much time they spend to push the message that testing directly in VR is essential. Not just at the end, but even in early concept stages and then all the time. They showed a number of simple prototypes they build just to test some aspects of VR design, which is also the whole point of the Google Design Lab. And the only part that got me really exited was closely related to this: the latest Cardboard SDK has support for Unity Remote, which allows running your game in the Unity editor, but displaying it on the phone, including head tracking. I tried this before and failed to get it to work, but this is something that could improve development a lot by making test cycles much less painful.
All in all the talk is probably worth watching if you haven't looked into VR design before, but there isn't anything Cardboard specific you'd miss if you get your VR design guidelines somewhere else.
Awhile back Google open sourced Cardboard Design Lab for Google Cardboard. In that app, I was amazed by the forest scene created by UsTwo. As my first project learning to create VR experiences on Unity, I wanted to bring the forest into SteamVR so I could explore using motion controllers on HTC Vive. Users can now freely teleport around any area of the forest by pressing the track pad button. There are meshes missing in areas users weren't able to see in the original GoogleCardboard app. However, I was satisfied with the overall experience and wanted to share with others that own the HTC Vive.
Lastly, you can find the open source code for Cardboard Design Lab here: [link]
These are the links I have found so far.
I am in the process of creating a VR wiki FAQ guide. It may be of some use to you. You can find it here.
> but would like to try this cardboard app that's Android only.
Cardboard Design Lab isn't worth buying another phone. It basically shows ten stations for the "VR Design Principles" mentioned in the play store description:
The only ones that really benefit from being shown in VR are 3/5 (making the user sick) and 7 (showing large objects), but after running through the environment I felt like I had wasted my time looking at what are basically ten post-its with one sentence about well known VR design principles each. It might be interesting if you have never thought or heard about VR design before or just for the low poly style presentation, but after reading the Verge article and watching the Google I/O 2015 - Designing for virtual reality I expected it to be more impressive. Wait a couple of days and someone will post a complete walk-through on YouTube, you won't miss much.
If you still want to buy an Android phone just for this app: it runs at acceptable speed on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus from 2011 at 1280 * 720, the slowest of the phones that Google initially supported with Cardboard. You can get these on ebay for about USD 60. I wouldn't recommend it for general use, as it is rather slow, causing many apps to run at very low frame rates, which makes a lot of people sick pretty fast. It makes a lot of sense to pay double the price and get a used LG G2 instead, as the higher resolution and faster CPU/GPU provide a much better experience. As even the fastest smartphones are rather underpowered for VR, spending as much as you can afford is currently a good strategy for mobile VR.
Cardboard Design Lab
Get it on Android