Google Announces Cheap and Accessible Virtual Reality App Named Cardboard

App makes use of everyday items to create a basic VR headset.

Google has announced its foray into the smartphone virtual reality space with an app named Cardboard.

The app is described as a "no-frills enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset". Google has also released instructions on how to build a virtual reality viewer to use with the smartphone app. The viewer is constituted primarily of everyday items, including cardboard, lenses, magnets, velcro, a rubber band, and an optional stick NFC tag.

Released with the app is the accompanying open software toolkit, as well a tutorial on how to start coding. Android phones must be running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) or above to support Cardboard. Google will also be hosting a talk about virtual reality on Android on June 26, from 10am PST.

Will you be trying out Cardboard? Let us know in the comments below!

Zorine Te is an associate editor at GameSpot, and you can follow her on Twitter @ztharli
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Zorine “harli” Te is a long time Australian competitive gamer and also an Associate Editor at GameSpot.

Discussion

99 comments
gralvader
gralvader

A bit off topic, I keep seeing all this crazy videos regarding peoples reaction when using the Oculus Rift, they really think they are experiencing something unique. I got to try the OR a while ago and let me tell you that it was nothing revolutionary, I did not feel I was inside the game and I certainly did not feel like I was in a virtual world. It failed miserably at blowing my mind, maybe I set my expectations to high or maybe I am to old of a gamer to get blown away by a boring roller coaster demo.

frost_mufoy
frost_mufoy

Earlier, I posted about my vendor/service for google cardboard, so I thought I'd let you all know the domain named has changed. For those who haven't gotten a chance to check it out, www.imcardboard.com is a very reliable service that sells pre-cut products as well as kits to create your own virtual reality. Don't miss out!

frost_mufoy
frost_mufoy

Everyone seems to be naggin' on google cardboard, but for those of you who agree that this thing is pretty nifty, check out www.googlecardboard.com. For those of you who are still unsure, or disliking the idea, check it out anyways! Prices are affordable-- cheaper than buying any kind of pizza, and it's a whole' lot less time consuming to just get these precuts! 

Zloth2
Zloth2

Sure is hot outside for early April...

Xmus942
Xmus942

TROLOLOLLOLOOOLO


HA HA HA HA EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

LucentWolf
LucentWolf

Kinda wish they hadn't done this. Now people will try and make it and think that it's representative of all VR experiences. Which I highly doubt it's any where near the level of something like Occulus Rift or Morpheus. -.-

bobjones1980
bobjones1980

this is cool now you wont have to spend hundreds of dolors for a vr experience, its probably not going to be as good but its functional at least.

nurnberg
nurnberg

I know a revolutionary VR tech. It's called using your eyes and going out of your basement.

kujel
kujel

This will be so much better then the OR.

Kommodus
Kommodus

Sounds liek a sure way to burn your retinas nice and fast

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

It's funny commentary by Google, but I personally cannot wait to play games like Fallout on VR.

prime_l
prime_l

Oooo yea. Who's excited for VR Candy Crush? No one? Awww..

dribblesbarbax
dribblesbarbax

Google are just jealous of the other companies with their VR solutions so they act out in this manner. Hey lets poke fun at VR and show you how easy it is. Nobody wants to wear your douchey glasses out in public Google.

prime_l
prime_l

Oculus and Mopheus spend millions (Billions?) on R&D... Google goes all Magyver and makes one out of a cereal box, a broken pair of glasses and a smartphone. 

...that's kinda funny.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

I think I might try this if they sold a kit with everything in it....and made the software available on something other than Android. Guess that is never going to happen.

I've been wanting to try a VR headset for ages but it is a catch 22. You can't try a headset properly till you own one but I'm never going to buy one unless I've tried one.

ecurl143
ecurl143

Haha - yeah, this article looks like it's an April fools joke but even so, I'd be curious to check it out just for the hell of it.

Oculus & Morpheus on the other hand is no joke - VR is here to stay and I guarantee you that all you nay-sayers who think VR is a fad  will be the first in the queue to purchase one when you realise how awesome it is.

Make no mistake, VR in the home is the next massive thing to hit the home space.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Yeah because everyone has glass lenses just lying around the house.

mattcake
mattcake

Aww I miss Blue Peter. Oh wait no I don't, it was ****.

Wicked869
Wicked869

An electromagnetic field around your brain. Smart, very smart (sarcasm)

phbz
phbz

This will be awesome with my potato powered PC! 

Jasurim
Jasurim

Lol, I can't tell if this is meant to be serious or not.

Zombrex
Zombrex

@bobjones1980 I don't know anyone who spends any dolors. I wasn't even aware you could spend physical pain.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@ecurl143 That's the issue though we will never know how awesome it is until we get our hands on one. Who in their right minds would buy something that they haven't tried yet? And have no way of trying it out properly?

Besides VR has many issues such as not being able to do anything conveniently in a group and not being able to use more than 1 headset per device or whatever. Things that we have no idea if they will ever be able to fix. VR will hit enthusiasts and hardcore gamers hard and then will fizzle out to nothing. 

Unfortunately hardcore gamers are also a minority in the gaming market so I honestly don't see a good end for VR.

xenus_13
xenus_13

@Wicked869 and your Smartphone is no where near your head when you make a long call...

gregglle
gregglle

@Jasurim it's meant to be fun.  They know VR is around the corner, yet don't have the time to make a viable entry in the market.  So they made an app and the cardboard cutout for people to experience a form of Vr. And it works.  The magic is really in the app, the stereoscopic split screen, and the gyroscope/accelerometer.... and the beautiful crisp displays of modern mobile phones

dribblesbarbax
dribblesbarbax

@Dannystaples14 Thats why Oculus and Morpheus are fine as you will only be wearing those ridiculous things in the privacy of your own home.

prime_l
prime_l

@Dannystaples14 @dribblesbarbax 

Show offs?

gregglle
gregglle

@angelcage2 @ecurl143 take that 3dTV and make it into a 3dSphere that surrounds you. That's what VR is. 

prime_l
prime_l

@Dannystaples14 VR has so many uses outside of gaming. I don't see it being a fad or gimmick to be honest.

ecurl143
ecurl143

@Dannystaples14 Your opinion is a little closed minded, as are many I have encountered on the internet over the years.

VR for me personally, will be for an individual, immersive experience - I'm not bothered about doing anything in a group with VR - I have plenty of other hardware to choose from if I want that co-op gameplay or experience, my PC, my consoles, my phone, christ, the list goes on - no big deal there.

Not being able to use more than one headset per device? - So what, again, I'll point to the fact that I want an individual experience, not a group one but having said that, how long will it be before the hardware is around to do that? - Extra usb hub or something? - again, no big deal there & certainly not a deal breaker.

Hardcore gamers? - Do you honestly think VR will only appeal to hardcore gamers? - What about the obvious application for education? - Virtual Tours of the world? - The solar System Virtual Tours of the International Space Station etc? - Stuff like that and that's only the beginning.

You need to open your mind dude.


Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@prime_l What like watching a movie? No thanks movies are definitely meant to be watched on a TV or similar screen. 

That crap about being able to see yourself in 3D in a cinema watching a movie. It is £7 to watch a movie if I want a cinema experience I'll go to the cinema.

Headsets are for immersion. I've never had any problem becoming immersed in a game or movie on my TV now, so it seems pretty pointless to me.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@ecurl143 Yeah exactly YOU won't be gaming in a group but the majority of the gaming population WILL. Which means VR won't be compatible with the majority of the gaming population. How can something change the face of gaming and technology if only a minority of people want it?

gregglle
gregglle

@Dannystaples14 @prime_l the reason there's people like us who are really interested in VR is because we understand what it really is.  Most naysayers, DON'T.  If the VR enthusiasts had the same "idea" of what VR was, then they too would not be interested.  It is NOT the same thing as staring at a screen close to your face.  A screen has to physically be there, but that's in order to enable virtual reality, focusing on infinity, etc.  Naysayers tend to think that because everyone's always talking about "immersion" that someone decided to tape a HD screen to their face for the "ultimate" immersion.  Sorry, but that's not what VR is at all.  VR enables you to see content how it appears in real life, in first person.  For most people, they still wouldn't understand until they actually try it on.  BUT once you understand what VR really is, everything makes sense.  It's not a new "gimmick" market.  VR has always been around the corner regardless of this last decade of gimmicks.  

prime_l
prime_l

Hadn't even thought of movies... Would be cheaper than a 3D TV. I was thinking more along the lines of thinks like Google Street View, virtual tours, education and simulation. If you look around the net people are coming up with some pretty creative ideas.

I messed around with the original SDK, and played Mirrors Edge and Skyrim with it. It blew me away and I can't think of anything that added something so exciting to gaming.

ecurl143
ecurl143

@Dannystaples14Not every game needs to be played as a group or in Co-op mode - I've had my fill of co-op games, it seems everything has to be done in a group or you have to be socially connected in some way - well, I for one, want that single player experience again where it's just me and the environment & that's where VR will come into it's own.

Remember, before everything became co-op, we only had single player experience and the majority of the gaming public was made up of that type of player

Over time (say 6 - 12 months or so) they will have figured out a way of bringing more people into the fold - I dunno how but it's bound to happen.

Until then, I don't really care if it doesn't support that aspect of peoples need to be connected.


Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@ecurl143 And yet they keep making more of them every year. The Division, Destiny, The Crew, Drive Club, Evolve, all games that people are most excited about in coming months and will be heavily leaning on co-op play. Again just because you don't want it doesn't mean no one else does. You are not going to single handedly hold up the device are you?

Yeah before co-op. It is no longer before co-op, it is during co-op. The time of co-op is now and the time of VR is coinciding and what I am saying is the two are not compatible.

Co-op will never be compatible. This will be for solo gamers i.e. mainly hardcore gamers and they are the minority. Co-op is done best when two people are sat next to each other. To do that with Oculus Rift or the Sony headset you would need a computer powerful enough to render the game in 1080p and 60fps (to stop people throwing up on themselves TWICE) to all hedasets at the same time. PS4 and Xbox One are struggling to hit it once at the moment and PC is not a group platform, it never has been.

You're average family of 5 would need 5 headsets which is over $1000 from what we can gather at the moment and will need a computer powerful enough to render the game to the equivalent of five screens. Do you know how expensive such a computer would be?

Families, casuals and group gamers are the majority in the market at the moment. They will not want this technology.

None gaming applications may be possible but I also know that normally external uses of technology don't keep the original designs of the device they use. They normally take the original as a prototype and then modify it. You think a surgeon is ever going to wear a Rift on their face while they have their hands in someone's chest cavity or a robot arm inside someone? Not a chance. There would have to be so many vigorous tests done on it that the chances of it still being an Oculus Rift when it is finished would be slim.

This will be a niche product. Not mainstream.

ecurl143
ecurl143

@Dannystaples14 Well it sounds like you've already condemned this product before it's even hit the streets and you're obviously not interested in what it will bring to the multimedia industry as a whole.

You'll eat those words in 18 months though.