SyFy Channel's 'The Expanse' App Lets You Fly By Spaceships in 3D

The cast of SyFy Channel's The Expanse science fiction TV series pose for a photo at New York Comic Con 2015.
The cast of SyFy Channel's The Expanse science fiction TV series pose for a photo at New York Comic Con 2015. (Image credit: SyFy Channel)

NEW YORK — Fans at New York Comic-Con got an immersive look into the  SyFy Channel 's epic new TV series "The Expanse" in more ways than one: with a Q&A panel and screening of the first episode as well as with a Google-Cardboard-powered 3D tour of the show's spectacular spaceships to take home.

As con-goers entered the panel yesterday (Oct. 8) they received flat, plastic-sealed packages which could be folded into Google's quick-and-dirty 3D viewer made of cardboard, Velcro, a magnet and some plastic lenses.

Downloading an app and securing a smartphone inside the newly-folded device let viewers — hopefully after leaving the panel — plunge into some of the upcoming series' most dramatic visuals: the enormous Tycho Station and the Nauvoo, a Mormon missionary ship. When the app was first released in July, at San Diego Comic-Con, it hosted a view of the show's Canterbury ice freighter. [Our 10 Favorite Sci-Fi Space Stations of All Time]

The app came from a partnership between Syfy and NBCUniversal Media Labs, according to the press release, and used materials from the show's visual effects department to make sure the views were authentic. The app can display in 3D — which follows users' head movements as they look around — or in ordinary 2D.

This is likely not the last of the 3D viewer's vistas: "The Expanse" is rich with intriguing locales. The show takes place (in part) on spaceships, a futuristic Earth and the asteroid Ceres — where gravity varies with depth within the spinning colony and members of an underclass are rising to rebellion. The interplay of the different factions, in very different locations, will drive the action of the show. And now, sci-fi fans can get a first-hand glimpse of some of those settings with just a cardboard set of goggles (or even a pizza box and some spare parts — Google gives DIY-ers directions to build Google Cardboard from scratch).

You can download SyFy's "The Expanse" VR app at Google Play or  iTunes.

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Sarah Lewin
Associate Editor

Sarah Lewin started writing for in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.