Google Cardboard is a virtual reality system from Google that can be designed for use with a head mount for a smartphone. It has been developed as a low-cost virtual reality (VR) headset that works with phone apps. Google also has a Cardboard Camera app that allows you to turn your smartphone into a VR-experience device and make your own VR scenario from your own pictures!
The app helps in capturing 360-degree view photograph by rotating your smartphone. It will then replay the image as a 3-dimensional scene within the Cardboard viewer. It also has audio capture to enhance the experience even more. You can become your own producer!
How does Google Cardboard Work?
The Google Cardboard platform is made of a Cardboard VR viewer and inexpensive phone apps for android and apple. Currently, over 5 million of the headsets have been sold and more than a thousand compatible apps have had been published.
Google Cardboard Headset
The headset is made from simple and affordable materials, it is a wearable cardboard “goggle” that you assemble according to instructions within minutes. The headset then holds your cell phone and you are ready within minutes to begin a VR experience.
You can even make your own Cardboard headset by checking all the schematics, parts info, and assembly details available free of cost on Google’s website.
As the device’s name suggests, it is literally made using pieces cut out of cardboard. The main parts required for making the Cardboard viewer are:
- Lenses of focal length 45 mm
- Magnets / capacitive tape
- Rubber band
- Near field communication tag (NFC) (optional)
- Hook & loop fastener
You can also get pre-assembled kits at very low prices, here is one headset for under $20. In fact, many vendors have developed different innovative variations of Cardboard.
How to Use Google Cardboard
Once you have assembled all the pieces together, you will insert a smartphone at the back, which will be held in place using a fastening device. Make sure to install the Cardboard Camera app on your smartphone.
It will split the phone’s display into 2 parts. Each part is for each eye. This will help create a 3D image (stereoscopic) while giving you a wide field of view while using the goggles.
The cardboard casing has a front panel for suspending your smartphone in front of the casing’s 2 lenses. The device is held in place with Velcro straps. It will then work as your VR viewer and it uses the phone app to power the VR experience. The larger the display size, the larger will be the Field of View (FOV). A larger FOV will also create a more immersive and richer experience.
Google updated its Cardboard design recently. You can use the virtual reality device with smartphones of display sizes up to 6 inches. It has more user friendly options and it is also compatible with wider number of smartphones.
Google cardboard was developed for beginner VR users and the casual user. There are a variety of apps for android and apple usually under $10.
You can get apps for the Cardboard VR experience from Google Play Store or the apple App Store.
How Much Does Google Cardboard Cost?
In Cardboard VR viewer, Google has introduced the cheapest virtual reality/augmented reality device on t market. You can make it on your own or purchase a low-cost piece developed by third party. Different sellers offer slightly different designs, but with the same concept, for different set of prices.
- The Baoer Cardboard Valencia Quality 3D VR Glasses are available at $6.95 on Amazon.
- The Insten DIY 3D Google Cardboard Virtual Reality VR Glasses Video Eyewear along with complete kit are available for $6.99 on Wal-Mart. They also have a headband and are compatible with many Android smartphones from Samsung, Motorola, HTC and LG, and with the iPhone 6S. Make sure you have a phone with a minimum display size of 5.1 inches.
- Mi3D Virtual Reality Black Cardboard Viewer comes with the full kit. It is one of the closest designs to the Google Cardboard and costs $9.97 on Amazon.
- The Kollea Google Cardboard Virtual Reality 3D Glasses are a DIY kit that can be easily setup. It is available for $9.99 on Amazon.
- If you want a complete Google cardboard kit having NFC, the EightOnes VR Kit is the ideal choice. It has NFC, head-strap, video instructions, and 1 year warranty. It is available for $16.99 on Amazon.
Audio Features in Google Cardboard
The Cardboard SDK now has spatial audio support, and allows developers to create 3D sound within the virtual reality experiences. The audio feature has been added more recently. It features a VR effect that simulates the Doppler Effect. The sound feature is available for both Android and Unity developers. It will eliminate the need for playing sounds separately on the left and right speakers for creating immersive sound effects.
This spatial sound system works by combining the position of the user’s head with regard to where the sounds should come from. It also involves audio delays, which is an attempt to make the sound to be as natural as possible. The built-in support for spatial audio also helps ensure there is minimal impact on your phone. This sound feature has made the device even more popular.
Google Cardboard may be the most affordable virtual reality device for smartphones, there are other headsets too. Gear VR from Samsung has much advanced specifications, yet it is based on the same concept. It is designed for Samsung’s mobile devices. It costs much more because of its higher specifications.