Google Cardboard review: The cheapest way to Virtual Reality
- can be made from simple materials
- most affordable virtual reality experience
- the cardboard can be fragile
Virtual reality is the new tech trend. Started with the success of Oculus Rift, the VR phenomenon is taking the tech industry by storm. But in spite of all these tech hype, VR is still in development and consumers are limited to “explorer” VR headsets with a very high price. Google fills that market gap with its entry to the VR world: the Cardboard. Many would say that the Cardboard is the poor man’s VR gear. It might be cheap, yet it promises a great impact to how we interact with multimedia content of the future, starting today. Read on to know what Google Cardboard is, and how I think of it as the most practical way to ride the VR bandwagon. You might even want to get one for yourself right after reading this article.
Google Cardboard is a cheap virtual reality headset introduced by Google in its annual I/O technology conference last June 2014. It works hand-in-hand with the Android ecosystem, requiring an app to support stereoscopic imagery of any content on your Android smartphone. Google wins in its target audience – the fact that Android runs on the majority of the smartphones in the market today, and the company who makes the Cardboard is also the company who runs Android makes it a seamless integration.
To start with, the Cardboard is, well, made of cardboard. Yes, it is cheap. And it is quite fragile. But we are talking about the cost here. What better way to make a very affordable VR experience for everyone than to make a gadget made of paper? Google is taking a big stake in making the Cardboard a fun experience to almost everyone. Simply put, the Cardboard is very easy to make, and fun to use.
Cardboard is designed with cutouts for various parts. It is composed of a pair of lenses, a magnet, a Velcro strap for holding the smartphone in place, and a rubber band to secure the headset on your head. As ridiculous as it might be, the materials here are somewhat the things you use for a school project. But they make up the big part on the Cardboard experience. The good thing with the Cardboard is that it supports a wide range of smartphones, most especially the Nexus range of phones which Google makes in partnership with companies like LG, Samsung, and HTC.
The fun part begins with the kit itself. Google Cardboard can be purchased as a ready-to-assemble DIY (do-it-yourself) kit. These kits are listed on its website, and is outsourced by Google to some third-party manufacturers like DODOcase and Knox Labs. Interestingly enough, you can make your own Cardboard headset by downloading a premade layout scheme on its website. If you take this path, you will need all of the materials for building the headset which can be found on your school project kit resting somewhere in your room or house. That’s ridiculously crazy. And fun too.
To make things even more interesting, a wide range of designs can be found on the Maker Gallery page on the Cardboard website to help you make your very own personalized Cardboard. This makes the DIY part even more fun to make with kids.
The experience is awesome for what it’s worth. As you start up the Cardboard app, it lets you select any content you wish to experience in 3D. Then you position the phone into the Cardboard. Soon enough, you realize that you already immerse yourself in virtual reality. You might look like someone from the future, and yes, you might get weird looks. But who cares when you lose yourself in a new dimension without spending too much?
Google Cardboard is cheap. Yet it makes up for a fun and affordable VR experience for everyone. You only need an Android smartphone and an app to immerse yourself in virtual reality. Starting with the construction itself gives off a different kind of fun, because it’s just like you are making something for a school project. Cardboard has a lot of potential for the mainstream VR experience. There is no better time to try it for yourself than now.