Cardboard is great.
You can make boxes out of cardboard, plant holders out of cardboard, little ships that eventually sink, out of cardboard, and if you use your imagination you can make a spaceship or submarine out of cardboard. I’ve made all of these things (and more) out of cardboard, but I can’t say I’ve ever made a fully functioning VR headset out of cardboard…
Google has, though. More specifically, Google employees David Coz and Damien Henry at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris came up with the idea. The inventive pair created the product as part of a ‘20% Project’, during which employees are encouraged to spend a fifth of their time working on a personal project. Thus ‘Google Cardboard’ was born; “Cardboard, a no-frills enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset, and the accompanying open software toolkit that makes writing VR software as simple as building a web or mobile app.”
What is this ‘no-frills’ enclosure made of? I think you know what it’s made of. It’s made of CARDBOARD! That’s right, it’s made of the same stuff as submarines, spaceships, cars and computers. But why? Well… “developing for VR still requires expensive, specialized hardware. Thinking about how to make VR accessible to more people, a group of VR enthusiasts at Google experimented with using a smartphone to drive VR experiences.” says Google, and I’d agree with them. The most recent Oculus Rift Dev Kit is currently retailing at a hefty $350. How much does Google Cardboard cost? As much as a few sheets of cardboard, a smartphone (if you don’t already have one), some lenses, elastic bands, and velcro.
The best thing is, unlike the spaceships I built when I was a kid, Google Cardboard is an actual, real life, VR headset. The Cardboard app details the software already compatible with the headset, including Street View, Google Earth and YouTube.
So if you want to find out how to make your own VR headset, head over to this link – and yes, according to Google you can make the headset from a pizza box, but “Make sure you order an extra large.”