New York Times bets on virtual reality’s future with new Google Cardboard VR project


The New York Times and Google today announced NYT VR, a new Google Cardboard platform designed to deliver a series of virtual reality short films to the publication’s 1.1-million print subscribers.

NYT VR is set to come to iOS and Android on November 5 and a free Google Cardboard headset will be sent out to all print subscribers on November 7 and 8.

The first film coming to the app is called The Displaced. The movie follows the lives of three refugee children from the South Sudan, Eastern Ukraine and Syria, and is produced through a partnership with Vrse, the same company that helped Vice Media launch its own virtual reality news coverage earlier this year.

An additional mini-documentary that delves into the inner workings of The New York Times called Walking New York will be the second film released on NYT VR, with a third movie following later this year and more reportedly coming in 2016.

A “selection” of longtime Times Insider digital subscribers will also be given a free Cardboard and given access to NYT VR.

Google Cardboard headsets typically only cost $30, making the devices a gateway to the burgeoning virtual reality space. The inherent idea behind low-cost virtual reality devices like Cardboard and Samsung’s GearVR – that use people’s smartphones as a screen – is to introduce people to the concept of VR, hopefully encouraging interest in more immersive (and expensive) devices like the upcoming PlayStation VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.