June 28, 2014

Google Cardboard: A cheap, DIY 3D viewer

Virtual reality is a fascinating advancement in computing which has clearly taken a leap because of invention of devices like the Oculus Rift. However, the access to most virtual reality devices is limited because of hefty price tags of the products and the code complexity.

Cardboard ingredients

Google created the Cardboard project to solve this problem and make VR available to everyone in a "simple, fun, and inexpensive way". The do-it-yourself project allows people to construct their own VR device to use with their smartphones. The complete cost of one of these viewers is no more than $30; a fraction of the cost of VR devices out today. Google has even provided an experiment toolkit for developers to create their own virtual reality projects.

This project uses your Android device to act as the two screens in the viewer. It also uses a magnet on the side to trigger sensors in your phone to confirm that you selected an option. A very similar product would be the Durovis Dive. The Dive is a 3D printed viewer for smartphones and retails for about $83. In fact, Google Cardboard suggests the use of the DIY Lens Kit from Durovis.

This is a step in the right direction and opens up the possibility of easily attainable 3D viewing. Google is releasing Cardboard only as an experimental API and it will not receive the amount of support a regular API receives. If you have made a Cardboard or you are just interested in seeing the app, it is available now on the Google Play Store and as a Chrome experiment.

More information about the Google Cardboard project including how to build one yourself can be found here.

Benson is a writer at [blank]'s Universe. He has a strong interest in computers and science. Benson also listens to a wide variety of music.