A simple cardboard kit that you put together yourself. It’s not more than a few pieces of cardboard, two lenses, and some Velcro. However, it does provide a very nice experience for a low price. But how good is Google Cardboard, is it an effective competitor or a mere joke?
What is the Google Cardboard
The name says it all, Google Cardboard is a virtual reality glass of cardboard. The kit was given away for free last year at the Google IO event. At the time, the unit was received with derision. How can such a cheap and simple device provide a nice virtual reality experience? It seemed like a joke from Google until the first reviews appeared. Google Cardboard provides an excellent entry-level experience for a very low price to get acquainted with Virtual Reality.
Google Cardboard emerged as a so-called 20% project at Google. This is a project where Google employees work in their “free time” on. Eighty percent is spent on normal activities and the remaining time on projects such as Google Cardboard. Today, however, it is a 100% project which indicates that the search giant has seen the virtual light. We are very interested in what way Google is going to intrude on the virtual battlefield. The introduction of a platform like YouTube for virtual reality is obvious.
How does Google Cardboard work
The idea is as simple as it is ingenious. The only thing you need in for a virtual reality experience are special lenses that provide a large field. Additionally, you need a device capable of displaying two separate images and register movements. All this is doable with a high-end smartphone. Two separate images are displayed perfectly on a 5-inch screen and the built-in gyroscope can track the movement.
After you have folded the Google Cardboard together you place your smartphone in front and voila, you have a home-made virtual reality glasses. The addition of a magnet to the side serves as a brilliant addition. The smartphone registers the magnetic field and as soon as you move the magnet, you “click” something within an app.
This principle may sound familiar because it is exactly how the Samsung Gear VR works. Replace the cardboard casing by one of plastic and place a Samsung Note 4 and you have the Gear VR. You pay a lot of money for just a housing and a pair of lenses.
Apps and content
Almost simultaneously with the arrival of Google cardboard, a virtual reality app was launched with the catchy name Cardboard app. This app includes several VR content for a pleasant introduction. You can take a virtual tour with the Tour Guide or fly through Google Earth. Watching Youtube videos is also possible and the app also includes a short animation called “Windy Day. However, they are no apps that provide long virtual fun. You can get bored quickly.
Of course, Google is not the only party that delivers content for Cardboard. You can view content from Jaunt VR Cardboard. The 360 trailers videos that are in fact also available for Google Cardboard. However, this does eat a lot MB and are less impressive than when viewed with the Oculus Rift. Other developers also have released several apps for Cardboard.
The specifications and design of Google Cardboard are free to see to the public. Google has even published a comprehensive manual so that anyone can build a Google Cardboard. All the information of material up to the tool and the construction tips are available. This has ensured that many parties have arisen which now sell Google Cardboard. However, the quality (and price) differences are quite large. The main sellers ask around $20 while the material costs only a fraction of this.
Want to meet with virtual reality or have a nice gadget to show friends or colleagues? Then Google Cardboard for iPhone is a good entry point. Compact, affordable, and for a piece of cardboard a very impressive experience. Google has announced that they will continue to invest in virtual reality.