SAN FRANCISCO -- Google took a major step into the world of virtual reality Thursday, announcing that every video on YouTube can now be viewed using Google Cardboard, the company's low-cost virtual reality headset. YouTube will also now support VR video, a new type of video format designed specifically for virtual reality headsets.
"Using the same tricks that we humans use to see the world, VR video gives you a sense of depth as you look around in every direction," YouTube said Thursday in a blog post. "Near things look near, far things look far."
For now, there's just a baker's dozen worth of virtual reality videos on YouTube, but by adding support for this format, content creators can now start adding more of these types of videos. Among the VR videos currently available is "Hunger Games Experience," which lets you walk through the world of Katniss Everdeen.
And while YouTube may be limited in VR videos, the online service is making it possible for any of its videos to be seen using Google Cardboard: YouTube simply reformats the videos for Cardboard and shows them to users in "a kind of virtual movie theater." The experience is like watching a movie in an Imax theater, according to CNET.
These new features are available for Android users with Google Cardboard. YouTube has said it will support iPhones in the future, but the company has not specified when. Google Cardboard viewers can be purchased online, with some kits available for as low as $14.99. Google also offers do-it-yourself instructions for users who want to make their own viewer.