Google Cardboard, The Virtual Reality Craze and How it Works.
VR has become a lot more accessible as of late and this is due in large to a new range of VR headsets. Inspired by the success of the Oculus Rift, and with a desire to make VR more accessible and affordable Google set to work to bring us the Google Cardboard.
Previous incarnations of VR have been around for many years but most of them were either prohibitively expensive or resulted in headaches for a large number of users. The Oculus Rift uses new technology to address these issues and while the underlying principles remain the same they make virtual reality headsets much more attainable. Google built on this to bring greater affordability as well, which is certainly what the medium needs if it wants to enjoy the growth and popularity to ensure its long awaited adaption into the mainstream.
Google Cardboard helps because many people already own a compatible smart phone so they have the expensive technology. This means that for less than $10 they can experience a good VR experience by harnessing the processing power of their phone.
Launched by Google at the I/O conference earlier this year it has since attracted a huge following. Since Google put their plans for this on the internet you are able to download them and make your own or if you’re not so keen on sourcing the required parts and doing it yourself then you can buy any of the cheap DIY kits that can be assembled in just a few minutes. You can view one such kit on the Chinavasion website.
If your using the headset with a NFC phone then once installed the android cardboard application will automatically launch. The lenses are designed to give the optimal viewing experience but are not adjustable to compensate for people who need corrective lenses. However I’m sure a little bit of tweaking can accommodate most users.
The application works by using the accelerometer and gyroscopic sensors in the phone to track the movement of the phone. As the phone is part of the headset it will be held up to your eyes and hence enable you to freely view the VR environment around you as you move your head.
On the side of the headset is a metal ring which has a corresponding magnet on the inside of the headset. This may not seem like a switch but it is. The phone is able to use a magnetometer to detect the magnetic changes caused by the movement of the ring so the combination of old school and new technology helps you navigate the menus and control the phone.
So what is the use of this newly available cheap VR headset, well you can now play interactive games enjoy immersive viewing experiences in places such as galleries and museums and tour cities in near life reality. These types of VR headsets will make you feel as though you’re in a movie theater, even though the display of your phone is only 4 or 5 inches on it will feel like they are 100 inches when viewed through the headset. While this isn’t may not be better than the myriad of VR headsets available it does have one distinct advantage. It’s cheap and simple. It will bring VR to a whole new audience and this in turn will drive development of a new range of apps and games to cater of that audience which can only be a bonus and I suspect VR has finally arrived.