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Google Cardboard: The ins and outs explained

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We recently came across an article on Google Cardboard by Chris Manente, which we couldn’t help but pass comment on.

Manente went on to discuss the huge potential this VR device had, particularly in relation to its apps.

However, in comparison to at least some of Google’s products, there appears to be little attention placed on the hardware and it hasn’t donned the news quite as much. It’s for this reason we have put this page together, as we take a look at Cardboard in full detail and highlight all of the facts that have been released about the device.

What is Google Cardboard?

We’ve spoken about a “device” and “hardware”, so it might be surprising to hear that Google Cardboard is in fact manufactured out of cardboard.

The idea is to make the virtual reality concept as cheap as possible and it means that a headset is assembled out of standard cardboard. Google have supplied information on how to make these headsets at home, or it’s possible to purchase them readymade from a store.

It means that rather than being a standard VR headset, Google have attempted to make VR more accessible and have merely supplied the parts, the headset and the apps, separately.

In relation to the apps, these need to be compatible to the headsets which mean that the display image needs to be split into two, while barrel distortion needs to be applied to images as well. This will make the app completely usable once a person starts to wear the headset.

What is the history behind the product?

Like a lot of Google products, the history of Cardboard stems from the 20% innovation time that employees of the company are provided with. The employees in question are David Coz and Damien Henry and both developed the product so it could launch at the 2014 Google I/O developers conference.

What software does it run on?

There are currently three means of running Cardboard apps. Unsurprisingly, the first comes in the form of Android, while the other two are Unity and iOS.

How is it being used?

With over 1,000 applications now developed, a lot of developers have jumped on board to experiment with Cardboard.

Some companies have also taken advantage of the concept. For example, in 2014 Volvo released their own headset alongside an app called Volvo Reality. This app gave users the chance to look around their new vehicle, the XC90, in virtual reality mode.

How has Cardboard been received?

As we’ve already documented, there are now over 1,000 apps that have been developed for Cardboard. Perhaps even more tellingly is the number of viewers that have been dispatched. Google have only made one announcement regarding this, saying in January 2016 that they had shipped over 5 million of the headsets.

Following the uptake of Cardboard, Google have progressed with virtual reality and released a slightly more advanced VR platform going by the name of Daydream in 2016.