Not everyone is ready to plunk down a hundred dollars on virtual reality for the smartphone. Still, VR technology is coming up with some fun stuff, and it's growing in popularity in business as well as entertainment. If you'd like to get in on the trend, then Google Cardboard is a simple but effective virtual reality headset that is also inexpensive.
Google Cardboard is the easiest and most accessible way to experience virtual reality. The viewer is just made of a single piece of cardboard that you fold and use with your Android or Apple smartphone. It has two plastic lenses and doesn't use a headstrap. You just hold it up to your forehead. It's really just an entry-level headset for dabbling with VR experiences. You wouldn't use cardboard to watch a full television show. However, you can play some virtual reality games with it.
It costs only around $15, although there are kits that are cheaper and specialized versions that cost a little more. There are third-party manufacturers that have the Google Cardboard badge to create similar devices as well. Google offers instructions for building your own and encourages you to modify its viewer as well.
Google is one of the groundbreakers for virtual reality headset technology for the smartphone, and as such it has a large number of apps that you can download and enjoy. Many are free. Our testers enjoyed one of the earliest apps that let you explore a haunted room, immersed in the creepiness until something leaps out at you. Watching people jump and yelp was almost as entertaining as the video itself, and it stands as a testament to the immersive experience of virtual reality even with a simple cardboard headset.
Since Google Cardboard was first released, the technology has improved, and Google offers developers two platforms for creating their own apps. Other VR headsets on the market also work with Google Cardboard apps. It also has an assembler, Google Jump, that lets you take 360-degree images using 16 cameras and combine them into a stereoscopic VR video.
Google Cardboard is not the most sophisticated virtual reality headset on the market, and since it's made of cardboard, it's not the sturdiest. However, it's inexpensive, fun, and still gives an immersive experience. It's a great gift for someone getting started with virtual reality with the smartphone or for a casual user.