(Ping! Zine Issue 72) – This years hit at Google I/o was without a doubt its new virtual reality headset, Cardboard. The foldable, inexpensive Headset made it debut at Google’s annual conference during Wednesday’s keynote, where attendees were given one to try out.
Cardboard is not an expensive headset like the Oculus Rift, but instead is a device made out of brown cardboard, hence the name. The device consists of an E Flute cardboard, Biconvex lenses, magnets, Velcro, a rubber band to hold the smart phone in place, and a NFC tag. To interact with Cardboard, you simply move your head around to navigate. The magnetic switches on the left side allow you to click on things by using your phone’s magnetometer, reports TheRegister.
Googlers David Coz and Damien Henry from the Google Cultural Institute In Paris started the project earlier this year as part of 20% project that prototyped VR experiences without the expensive hardware found in other headsets.
“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,” states Google’s developer’s page.
“The result is Cardboard, a no-frills enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR handset, and the accompanying open software toolkit that makes writing VR software as simple as building a web or mobile app”.
Once the headset is built, you will have to download the free cardboard app that is compatible with most smartphones running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or later. The websites notes that fully compatible devices include Google Nexus 4/5, Motorola Moto X, Samsung Galaxy S4/5, and Samsung Galaxy Nexus while the HTC One, Moto G, and Samsung Galaxy S3 are only partially compatible. The app allows you to go anywhere on Google Earth, take a local tour around Versailles, watch YouTube videos, examine cultural artifacts, drive through Paris, look around photospheres, and even watch an animated short story from Spotlight Stories.
“By making it easy and inexpensive to experiment with VR, we hope to encourage developers to build the next generation of immersive digital experiences and make them available to everyone”.
More information on how to build your own Cardboard can be found on developers.google.com/cardboard/