Google Cardboard – is it Google’s answer to Glass?
Google Cardboard is a gadget that showed up on just over a million doorsteps with the New York Times print edition a couple of weeks ago. The cardboard arrived as a small brown folded box with some pull tabs and self assembly instructions. After following the steps it quickly turned into a slightly larger box that resembled a little brown version of the old View-Masters.
Cardboard is a virtual reality headset that Google first unveiled as an experiment at their I/O conference in 2014. It came in two parts, the headset and the app. You slide your phone into the top of the headset and turn on the app. Once you look through the lenses, you’re greeted with a 3D world that takes place all around you.
The app initially launched with a few features, you could zoom around google earth, watch a cute animated video of a mouse with a hat, or take a virtual tour of Versaille. The key to cardboard though, is that it’s really good at doing all of it. It’s not gimmicky.
Today, the app store supports an endless number of virtual reality apps for use with Cardboard. Everything from scary games, virtual worlds, to virtual reality movies can be accessed using this little device.
By including these with their print edition newspaper, The New York Times is opening their market to something new. Their short film “The Displaced” is a story told in a new medium that draws you deeper into the story than the context on the page or any YouTube video could ever offer.
Bands like Muse and U2, shows like Saturday Night Live and other media outlets have been creating virtual reality experiences for cardboard as well, all hosted on a free app called Vrse. With new content showing up all the time, and other companies like Oculus and Samsung trying to develop their own virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, it’s safe to assume that this technology, as simple as Google is making it seem, is the next step in media.
If you don’t have a print subscription to the NY Times, don’t worry, Google Cardboard is super cheap and you can pick one up here (hyperlink to https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/get-cardboard/).