Google Cardboard Lets Smartphone Users Experience Virtual Reality

 
 
By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-02-13
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Google Cardboard Lets Smartphone Users Experience Virtual Reality
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    Google Cardboard Lets Smartphone Users Experience Virtual Reality

    By Todd R. Weiss
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    Build Cardboard With Google's Free, Downloadable Plans
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    Build Cardboard With Google's Free, Downloadable Plans

    Once you download the plans, you can trace them onto cardboard and carefully cut and score the pieces using a sharp hobby knife and other simple tools. Here is what the finished product will look like after the layout, cutting and scoring processes are finished.
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    Begin Assembly and Install Your Smartphone
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    Begin Assembly and Install Your Smartphone

    Once the parts are created, you can fold and assemble the parts until they form the boxy-looking Cardboard VR viewer. Several other parts are also needed, including some Velcro, a rubber band, two small magnets and some aftermarket lenses, which can be purchased online.
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    Get the Cardboard App to Start Using the Viewer
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    Get the Cardboard App to Start Using the Viewer

    Once built, the device needs the Cardboard app to work with your compatible smartphone. The Cardboard app helps you launch your favorite VR experiences, discover new apps and set up a VR viewer.
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    Explore With Google Cardboard
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    Explore With Google Cardboard

    The Cardboard app works with most modern Android phones, including the Google Nexus 4 and 5, the Motorola Moto X, the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Some phones are partially compatible. Devices must be running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) or higher.
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    Now You Can Look at VR With Cardboard
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    Now You Can Look at VR With Cardboard

    Some of the things you can do with the Cardboard app and your device include exploring the sights and destinations of Google Earth (as seen in this image of spectacular terrain), or take a virtual tour in a city such as Versailles with a local guide.
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    Pre-cut Kits Also Available for Cardboard
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    Pre-cut Kits Also Available for Cardboard

    One vendor, UnofficialCardboard.com, sells partially and fully assembled kits for $14.95 to $26.90 so users don't have to build Cardboard from scratch. The kits include special corrugated cardboard that is laser-cut to Google's specifications.
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    Unofficial Cardboard's Kit, Ready for Building
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    Unofficial Cardboard's Kit, Ready for Building

    Each Unofficial Cardboard kit includes special cardboard and the symmetric biconvex optical lenses, magnets, rubber bands and other parts that are required for construction.
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    Once Built, It's Ready for a Smartphone
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    Once Built, It's Ready for a Smartphone

    The user's smartphone fits into a slot in the side of the device so that the eyepieces and other parts line up properly with the phone and its components.
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    Here's What It Looks Like to the Wearer
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    Here's What It Looks Like to the Wearer

    The back side of the Cardboard device, with a smartphone installed, looks a bit like a classic Viewmaster 3D Viewer, which allows users to view stereo images on special cardboard and film photo reels. Here's what it looks like from the wearer's perspective.
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    Sizes for Small and Large Smartphones
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    Sizes for Small and Large Smartphones

    Cardboard versions are available from Unofficial Cardboard in two sizes, for regular-sized smartphones with displays up to 5.2 inches and for larger models with screens up to 5.7 inches.
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    Knox Labs Sells an Aluminum Premium Version
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    Knox Labs Sells an Aluminum Premium Version

    Another vendor, Knox Labs, sells a special $85 hand-built version that's made from anodized aluminum, shown here. Knox also sells actual cardboard versions at prices from $14.95 to $27.
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    Foam Versions From I Am Cardboard
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    Foam Versions From I Am Cardboard

    If you want your Cardboard viewer built from soft, flexible foam, then you can buy one from I Am Cardboard, which sells viewers in foam or cardboard at prices from $19.99 to $36.99. This is the company's black EVA foam version, which sells for $34.99.
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    DODOcase Also Offers Kits
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    DODOcase Also Offers Kits

    Cardboard kits from vendor DODOcase range from $21.95 to $24.95 and assemble in less than 10 minutes. Like the other brands of Cardboard devices, they are also compatible with specific Android and iPhone 5 and 6 smartphone models.
 

If you have a modern Android or Apple iOS smartphone and an extra-large pizza box, you can build yourself a virtual reality viewer that can bring a world of new experiences to you and your smartphone. That's the idea behind Google Cardboard, an app and an idea that was created in 2014 by a group of Google employees who began experimenting with ways to use smartphones to drive new kinds of VR experiences. Google provides a free Android app for Cardboard in the online Google Play store, as well as free plans that anyone can use to cut out and assemble their Cardboard devices for their smartphones. Apple iPhone 5 and 6 users can get apps elsewhere online for their phones so they also can be used with Cardboard devices. Ready-made or easy-to-assemble Cardboard devices can also be purchased inexpensively from several vendors, including all the specialized parts that are needed to build the viewers. In this eWEEK slide show, we show you Cardboard and its variants, including a cool, specialized all-aluminum version you can buy for $85 to impress your VR nerd pals.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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