Virtual reality is currently a field in which companies like Oculus VR and Sony are known in, Google not so much. Although the company does have Google Glass, we guess that doesn’t really count as virtual reality. That being said, it seems that Google has entertained ideas of virtual reality thanks to a project that they are calling Cardboard.
As you can see in the image above, it looks like a virtual reality headset and if you thought that it was a joke, think again. Apparently it is very real, according to a website setup by Google. According to the project’s description, “Virtual reality has made exciting progress over the past several years. However, 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.”
Essentially this is a DIY project that sees the user placing their smartphone into a headset-shaped piece of cardboard to create a virtual reality headset for themselves. What it involves is several pieces of items that you can buy at your local hardware store, like cardboard, magnets, velcro, and so on. The only slightly more difficult component to obtain would be a pair of 40mm lenses that will help keep your eyes focused on the content on your smartphone’s screen.
The content on your phone’s screen will come from an app available via Google Play. The app will provide the wearer with VR tours using Google Earth and will take you through some scenic cities around the world. It will also allow users to watch YouTube videos. Pretty cool, huh? However according to some who have tried it out, it’s not as smooth as more refined VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and left some feeling a bit of motion sickness at the end.
In any case it is an interesting albeit novel idea and if you’d like to learn more, head on over to its website for the details.
Update from Hubert Nguyen:
I got to play with one of these for a few moments, the complete assembly is basically having the cardboard apparatus holding a couple of lenses in front of a smartphone. The idea is really fun, and in my case, I was looking through the cameras of this little robot below. As I moved, the robot moved as well. You can imagine a number of fun DIY projects that could be derived from this.
However, let’s be clear that this is no Oculus Rift killer, even if it’s fun to joke about it that way. It may seem obvious if you know VR a little, but since many people have asked me, I thought that we should clarify this.
Even with a high resolution smartphone (720p/1080p), the perceived resolution was not so great. Still, it’s a fun and cheap way to do something that’s VR-like, without having to invest in something more complicated.