New York Times is shipping another 300,000 Google Cardboard Virtual Reality (VR) Viewers for its online digital-only subscribers.

In 2015, New York Times, in partnership with Google, sent out over 1 million Google Cardboard headsets to their home print subscribers to coincide with the launch of the NYT VR app. This new release of 300,000 devices is accompanied by the May 19 launch of their VR production Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart, and will reach approximately one-third of their installed digital subscribers.

With the recent launch of consumer VR devices including the Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift CV1, and HTC Vive, many companies are exploring how to best engage the new fledgling market. The incredibly low-tech Google Cardboard relies completely on the capabilities of users' smartphones to provide the sensor data, processing, and high quality display.

A similar move was taken with the Samsung Gear VR, developed in cooperation with Oculus, which relies on the power of Samsung's flagship Android phones. The key difference between the Cardboard and the Gear VR though is the build quality and the integrated VR home store. Other devices like the Oculus Rift CV1 and HTC Vive require a powerful desktop computer but provide richer VR experiences and include revolutionary new capabilities, such as hand-tracking motion controllers included with the HTC Vive.

With the industry moving rapidly from the simple Google Cardboard design, the New York Times is exploring the possibility of supporting more devices.

"There's lots of VR companies who will tell you that the world's moving beyond Cardboard pretty quickly, [...] and I think we're going that direction too," said New York Times Senior Editor Sam Dolnick, as cited by The Verge.

Still with the high cost of the current high-end VR setups, a smartphone mounted in an inexpensive Google Cardboard is an incredibly accessible way to experience VR. According to Pew Research Study, over 72 percent of people in the U.S. own a smartphone. This statistic proves that the potential market for Google Cardboard is incredibly strong.

Seeking Pluto's Frigid Heart is New York Times' eighth VR production launched on the NYT VR app. It is also the first one that uses 3D computer generated imagery instead of 360-degree video. Other NYT VR stories included the refugee crisis, the U.S. Presidential Elections, and on-the-ground coverage of the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks.

With VR technology, New York Times is hoping to move from simply telling stories to providing the means of virtually inhabiting these areas and seeing the events first hand.

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