The low-tech VR headset: Google Cardboard

26 Jun 2014

Yes, that’s right, cardboard. At the Google I/O developer conference last night, the company showed off an app that, with the help of a DIY cardboard cut-out can give you a low-cost VR headset.

While Facebook’s new toy the Oculus Rift has been getting all the headlines for its incredibly impressive virtual reality technology, once it’s released it is expected to be priced in the higher-end of the consumer scale, which could put off the average tech enthusiast from investing in a headset from the get-go.

However, with Google Cardboard, all an Android user has to do is download the Cardboard app from the Play Store and then, with the help of a bit of DIY creativity, a sharp knife and some cardboard, they can make their own low-cost virtual reality headset.

When the user has cut all the right holes and glued the right sections, he or she can simply slip his or her phone into the forward-facing slot and watch the screen through the two eye holes, once he or she has managed to obtain a pair of 40mm focal lenses.


The Google Cardboard components

VR for all

It may seem like a joke at first glance but Google is deadly serious about wanting to make Cardboard a real development tool to give people a taste of a technology that may otherwise be out of reach.

Of course, the immersion or technological achievements of virtual reality in Cardboard is not on the same level as Oculus Rift, but still could prove a hit with creative types who want to enjoy creating their own virtual reality headset.

While it’s most definitely available for all, a person may find it difficult to track down all the different components (anyone out there selling 40mm focal lenses?) but with Google making it open to developers to create their own VR experiences, it could prove to be a serious hit in the coming months.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic