The Google I/O conference held in San Francisco this year ended with a boom. The participants didn’t get a regular laptop or a tablet. What they got was a piece of cardboard! Yes, that’s true. Cardboard! Turns out, it is Google’s attempt of DIY Virtual Reality Headset.
The project started as an attempt to prototype Virtual Reality experiences at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris. The results inspired a large number of people to work together.
Cardboard works with an android app, a 188MB download, for virtual reality.
This means that you activate this app on your phone, stick your phone in cardboard, and fix your eyes in the eye sockets cut in the cardboard. Compared to the Oculus Rift, the Google’s Cardboard is inexpensive. This makes ‘VR for Everyone!’
Cardboard works with almost all the modern android phones- 4.1 or later. The Cardboard app can be triggered automatically by NFC. A pair of magnets on one side of the box is used as a button for clicking.
The cardboard app comes with 7 amazing experiences:
- Youtube allows you to watch a selection of Youtube videos
- With Street Vue you can wander around in a VR version of street view.
- “Exhibit” lets you look at a few 3D recreations of objects.
- Earth Flyover lets you zoom around a city in Google Earth.
- Photo Sphere Viewer lets you look around panoramas.
- Use Windy Day to watch animals in a cartoony environment.
- Tour Guide will let you explore the world!
Experiencing virtual reality was never this simple and fun. And disposable!
If you were not at the Google’s conference to get one headset, you can build your own! You just need to have a pizza box (extra-large!), lenses and magnets.
The VR toolkit by Google is experimental and they share it with developers at this early stage to let them experiment in the same way as they do right now. We hope that it’s a matter of months that someone will come up with a similar kick starter project. And a year down, we’ll be looking at VR Headset compatibility as well while buying our phones.