Cheap VR!

The coolest bit of swag I got from SIGGRAPH 2014 last week was a Google Cardboard VR kit. It’s Google’s cost-effective way of getting a virtual-reality headset to the general population. As you can see above, the kit consists mainly of cardboard, two lenses, some velcro, and a few magnets. You supply the smartphone, which is the display for your VR headset. This link, shows you a few more details and the official Google app for it is called Cardboard.

The official app has a few demos, including a Google Earth fly-through of select parts of the globe, a Google Streetview drive through a European city, and a YouTube demo. Unfortunately the YouTube demo doesn’t convert 2D videos into 3D but that’s asking way too much. The magnets, by the way, are used as input to the Cardboard app. You pull the magnet down and you release it just like the lever on an old-school View-Master.

The 3D effect is pretty cool and I’ve been impressed with how simple it was to bring a 3D VR headset to people using just their own smartphones and a bit of cardboard. You can also go on Google Play and download other 3D VR apps. Any one that splits the screen into left and right images will work with this kit. I’ve downloaded several and they all work great!

This by far was the best thing I got to take home from SIGGRAPH.

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