Have you ever wanted to experience virtual reality but did not have the money to acquire good equipment? Okay, neither do we, but that does not mean we can not try something cheaper. And Google Knows that we are more humble, and created Google Cardboard thinking exactly on people like us.
Google Cardboard: Google’s virtual reality
Cardboard is a Google initiative that aims to encourage the development and popularization of virtual reality applications. Unlike a virtual reality goggleembedded with modern technologies, Google Cardboard is so simple that you can even purchase or assemble your own home-compatible device with velcro, tape and cardboard. Once you’ve set up or purchased your Google Cardboard, just download the app from the Play Store, and start using Google’s virtual reality.
The idea of Google is also to give Android device makers a manufacturing base for virtual reality devices, a template to follow. Google’s Nexus initiative, which in partnership with a major Android maker launches a smartphone with the purest system experience possible, is similar to the Google Cardboard proposal. Nexus and Cardboard want to show manufacturers and consumers how to use Android better, in a way, by customizing the experience with that operating system.
But where do I get my Google Cardboard?
You can mount your own Cardboard or buy a glasses ready. In both options, the costs are very low. For low costs I am saying well less than 5% of the minimum wage. That is if you are not the type of person who wants to lay their hands on the dough and make your own kit. If you make your own kit, the costs fall by half.
Is my smartphone compatible with Google Cardboard?
In order to be compatible with Google Cardboard, your smartphone must have compatibility with NFC . Intermediate and top-of-the-line smartphones already come with NFC as the factory default, but there are exceptions to this rule. Check this out before you go out shopping for a cardboard or mounting your virtual reality kit.
What do I need on my Google Cardboard?
Whether it’s a Cardboard Ready, or one you’re putting together, you need to ensure:
- Cardboard or other material more or less resistant: used to make the whole body of the apparatus. Cardboard is very easy to shape and cut and should be the option used by those who will make their first Cardboard.
- Lenses: 2 45mm focal length and biconvex lenses should work, preventing distortion at the edges of images. It is the most chatinho item to find.
- Magnets: a neodymium magnet ring and a ceramic magnet ring, approximately 19 mm in diameter and 3 mm thick.
- Velcro: very velcro, to fasten the cell phone, to fasten the Cardboard on your head, in short, velcro is a good ally!
- Elastic: minimum size 8cm, and thick, to attach the cell phone to Google Cardboard.
- NFC: An NFC sticker, which must be programmed inside the cardboard application (write tags -> new -> link -> insert the URL “cardboard: //v1.0.0” -> touch write -> place the phone on top of the NFC sticker)
The kit may have more stuff than this list, but if you have fewer things, it’s risky that you do not have a full Google Cardboard experience.
Google Cardboard is only for Android
Another thing to remember is that the Cardboard only works with Android devices, so nothing to try to use the Cardboard with an iPhone or Windows Phone.
How does Google Cardboard work?
After so many explanations, it is good to talk better about the device itself.
You fit your phone in front of the Cardboard lenses, as if the smartphone were “plugging” a binocular. Each half of the smartphone screen will be on one of the Cardboard lenses, and the system-compatible application will divide the screen into two, one for each eye. Do not forget to open the compatible application before attaching the device to the Cardboard, or it will be a bit difficult to move it.
The cell phone then snaps into the lens, and you fit the Cardboard into your head. The commands for the applications can be made by the sensors of the cellular or by physical buttons, accessible through the interface that the cardboard leaves available in the assembly plane. With the NFC adhesive, the settings get much faster because the device will recognize the adhesive instantly.
From there, it’s quite simple. Our tip is to start using Cardboard App before using other compatible applications, like YouTube. The Cardboard has a very simple tutorial, teaching you how to move your head to navigate the options, and some virtual reality demos to familiarize people with this environment.
Do not forget to wear a headset to make the experience more complete, and turn your head to all sides slowly. Vertigo and motion sickness are normal until your brain gets used to the virtual reality environment and so, take it easy.
After this initial experience, you will be able to find applications compatible with the cardboard. For example, YouTube has a Cardboard mode for videos shot in 360 degrees, where you can view the same video in multiple directions.
What to expect from Google Cardboard?
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality experience that costs less than 5% of a minimum wage (without considering the value of the mobile, of course), while its “more” relatives can cost more than 2 minimum wages. Considering this, it is a great experience as a first contact with virtual reality.
It’s not so immersive to the point that you’re going to forget the real world to get into the virtual world, but it’s entertainment enough to spend a lot of time there on the Cardboard playing with VR applications.
The biggest care you should take is about the headaches and nausea, which are common in people using virtual reality devices. Therefore, it is important a period of adaptation and no sudden movements. Or the most you can expect from the Cardboard will be hours of dizziness. Limit your time on the Cardboard to a maximum of 20 or 30 minutes until you get accustomed.
It is also worth remembering that older devices may have problems when rendering virtual reality images, leaving the experience a little more artificial. Still, the experience does not lose much of its “magic”, and continues with a good degree of entertainment.
Again, we remember: Cardboard is a good first experience with virtual reality, but not its only experience. As a bonus, it’s very interesting to give this extra feature to your Android device, right? But we’d love to hear from you.
What do you think about Google Cardboard? Would you like a Google Cardboard?