Google Cardboard May be the Coolest Way to Use Cardboard Ever

Google Cardboard has taken the most mundane of objects—cardboard—and turned it into the future of virtual reality.

Cardboard is the everyman’s version of virtual reality viewers. It’s cheap and easy to use. Sure, there are Virtual Reality viewers like Oculus Rift or Samsung’s upcoming creation called Gear VR. But Google Cardboard is available now without a steep purchase price. Most Cardboard kits including I Am Cardboard, Dodocase, or Knox Labs sell for less than $10.

The simple-looking gadget was developed at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris as part of the iconic 20 percent time projects. The hardware involves a foldable cardboard box (hence the name) with low-cost viewers, 45 mm plastic lenses, and a lever or type of magnet that operates the screen.

Set up is easy. Some kits come assembled while others require a quick fold into the right shape. Slip your phone into the front of the viewer and hold in place with velcro or rubber bands and run one of the many apps designed to work with Cardboard. The viewer is designed to hold the phone in front of the plastic lenses at the perfect distance to provide a way to interact with the screen in a virtual reality based setting.

The magic of Google Cardboard viewer comes from your smartphone’s apps. Once you have set up your phone in the viewer and run one of about a dozen of the Google Cardboard compatible apps available, the software takes over the show. All Google Cardboard software is designed to split the screen into a right and left panel for each of your eyes. The app applies a precise  bit of distortion to correct any barrel distortion that the plastic lenses may create.

The effect is a stereo image that will completely fill your eye’s field of vision to immerse you into a virtual reality world of your making. The magnet or lever on the viewer aids you in interacting with things in your world. App developers have been working with the motion sensors in your smartphone to create a navigational experience not requiring buttons and levers to move through things. Add your earbuds to your phone for a full, interactive experience that includes sight and sound.

Virtual Reality, first introduced in the late 80s and 90s was a fad that came and went. But the new wave of Virtual Reality headsets and gadgets offer promising developments. Some of the most popular ways to currently use Google Cardboard include:

Proton Pulse

This game is like a 3D version of Pong, complete with psychedelic colors and techno music. Instead of using a controller, you simply look where you want the paddle to go. It’s the perfect puzzle action game for ravers.

Jack White THIRD-D

White Stripes frontman and rock ‘n’ roll genius Jack White is at the forefront of virtual reality concerts. His app has three songs at two different venues to enjoy. While the quality is not the best, it offers a glimpse into what virtual reality concerts could be like.


YouTube’s Android app is now Cardboard-compatible. There are currently only a small number of videos viewable, but they can be seen in 360 degrees, controlled by head tracking.

Categories: Google