Google's VR Headset is Literally Made of Cardboard

Google's VR Headset is Literally Made of Cardboard

Google has unveiled Cardboard, which uses a cardboard enclosure to turn a phone into a VR headset.

Hardware manufacturers are lining up to nab a piece of the virtual reality headset market. The Oculus Rift may be leading the pack, but Samsung has registered a trademark for its rumored headset, and Sony's Project Morpheus impressed The Escapist's Joshua Vanderwall at E3. Now, Google is joining the VR headset rush. Google announced project Cardboard at its annual I/O developer conference, describing it as "a no-frills enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset."

The plans for the headset can be downloaded and cut out at home on corrugated cardboard. To build the headset, you'll also need two lens, two magnets, some adhesive-backed Velcro, and a rubber band (to keep the phone in place). Google provides a list of suggested components and some online sources. The free Android demo app then lets you explore Google Earth in virtual reality, tour Versailles, and watch YouTube videos.

"Virtual reality has made exciting progress over the past several years. However, developing for VR still requires expensive, specialized hardware," says Google. "Thinking about how to make VR accessible to more people, a group of VR enthusiasts at Google experimented with using a smartphone to drive VR experiences." Assuming your local hardware store stocks the necessary parts, assembling a Cardboard viewer could easily cost you less than $50, not including the phone. "David Coz and Damien Henry at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris built a cardboard smartphone housing to prototype VR experiences as part of a 20% project," says Google. "The results elicited so many oohs and ahs that they inspired a larger group to work on an experimental SDK." Google's 20% projects allow employees to spend one fifth of their time working on side projects, a practice that helped created Google Glass.

Source: Google via Gamasutra

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Boy, April 1st came back around pretty fast.

I mean... I really don't get it. Is this supposed to be Google commentary on what they think of VR technology. "Haha, what took you millions of dollars to develop we made out of cardboard and magnets," That sort of thing? I dislike Google, but if that *is* the case, then I like them even less.

Checks the calendar.. nope, not April 1st.

Hmm, researching the source more closely.

image

I just don't get this at all.

Either way, someone at Google has too much time on their hands :)

Google is making public the tech for Oculus Rift (ie Facebook) and Project Morpheous (Sony) before they are released to the public, using barely more than the high tech phone in your pocket.

This is Google slapping them in the face for investing time and effort into tech barely better than what you'll be able to do with your phone, not to mention 3D tech has been around forever. The hardware just had to catch up.

What's so hard to get about this?

Want to play around with VR software? Are you a hobbyist who couldn't justify blowing several hundred on an Occulus Rift dev kit? (...And a few hundred more the gen 2 dev kit... and then more on the final version hardware a few months down the line...) Get $20 of cardboard and miscellaneous hardware, grab your existing smartphone, and start experimenting. Bolt the Cardboard toolkit to the free Unity engine and you can be prototyping VR games for next to nothing.

XenIneX:
What's so hard to get about this?

Want to play around with VR software? Are you a hobbyist who couldn't justify blowing several hundred on an Occulus Rift dev kit? (...And a few hundred more the gen 2 dev kit... and then more on the final version hardware a few months down the line...) Get $20 of cardboard and miscellaneous hardware, grab your existing smartphone, and start experimenting. Bolt the Cardboard toolkit to the free Unity engine and you can be prototyping VR games for next to nothing.

Hush, Google employee, and leave us to our conspiracies and wild theories!

You may laugh, but it does works really well. It's an eye opener about all the money being poured into all these projects.

Color me interested.... I just... I don't get it... and I'm sure I won't till I put it together and try myself.

IT'S ON!

Edit: I checked out the demo on my browser... and it all makes sense now. Amazon is universally out of the listed components though.

That's cute, but a big part of getting VR to work is supposed to be around getting a high enough latency/framerate/refresh rate/etc so it looks natural and doesn't make your head explode after 20 minutes. Smart phones and their fancy high-def screens were a driving force behind making it actually work, so it makes sense that you could make a cheap mock up based around your own standard smart phone.

For anything other than a novelty toy you're still going to need a dedicated kit though.

Ha! I love this. I got it to work by just ripping off a small piece of cardboard, throwing a towel over my head, and holding the cardboard up to my phone by hand. I literally didn't even have to leave my chair to do this.

Facebook buys Oculus Rift, then Google renders it moot. Gee, its almost as if the two are in some kind of competition.

Nah, that can't be it. Right Google+?

Honestly this sounds kind of interesting as a way to create a disposable headset for, say, conventions and such. They pass these out, folded up, to all the people in the audience with instructions to download a certain app then during a presentation they tell them to go onto the app and put their phone in the headset in order to present something in a pseudo 3D rift-like experience so that everyone in the audience can enjoy it at once.

I thought this looked familiar...

I'm sorry, no. It doesn't work like that. The impressive part of the upcoming HMDs isn't that it puts an image in front of your face. We've had that for decades. You have to address latency and 1:1 head tracking so that the experience doesn't make the majority of users sick. You aren't going to fix either of those with cardboard.

Lvl 64 Klutz:
I dislike Google, but if that *is* the case, then I like them even less.

Actually, I think somebody noticed that ninety percent of the technology in a VR headset (accelerometers, high resolution screens, gyroscopes etc) is already built into the average smartphone. That leaves getting a high enough frame rate out of the smartphone screen whilst it bifurcates itself and projects two images at once, whilst also figuring out how to make the phone give accurate head tracking without the vomit inducing lag.

Given where smart phones were six years ago and where they are now, a phone (or several) that can do that doesn't sound implausible to me. Maybe not in the next couple of years, but VR by the use of a cheap add on to a smart phone sounds pretty cool to me.

Also, that is way cooler than Google Glass.

Scars Unseen:
I'm sorry, no. It doesn't work like that. The impressive part of the upcoming HMDs isn't that it puts an image in front of your face. We've had that for decades. You have to address latency and 1:1 head tracking so that the experience doesn't make the majority of users sick. You aren't going to fix either of those with cardboard.

Well it includes an app which you download, I assume the app uses the phones sensors to do the head tracking part, so it's possible but I agree that it's quality would vary depending on the phone etc and the dedicated head sets would be far better. Still, as a dev test kit or even small use stuff it could do the job.

According to Captcha "Butler did it"

RicoADF:
Well it includes an app which you download, I assume the app uses the phones sensors to do the head tracking part, so it's possible but I agree that it's quality would vary depending on the phone etc

I'm sure the quality would vary depending on the phone, but I'm not sure any phone on the market would be suitable for handling the head tracking well. None I've ever seen would have sensors capable of actually doing it, and I can't think of any reason to put such sensors in a phone under normal circumstances generally speaking.

Vivi22:

RicoADF:
Well it includes an app which you download, I assume the app uses the phones sensors to do the head tracking part, so it's possible but I agree that it's quality would vary depending on the phone etc

I'm sure the quality would vary depending on the phone, but I'm not sure any phone on the market would be suitable for handling the head tracking well. None I've ever seen would have sensors capable of actually doing it, and I can't think of any reason to put such sensors in a phone under normal circumstances generally speaking.

I have the technology for that in my 3DS. It's not hard to do.

So, this is extremely destructible and easily torn apart by:

Cats
Dogs
Kids
Mice (and similar rodentia)
Water
General wear and teat
and possibly a stiff breeze...

Great idea! *Snerk*

It's basically a cardboard version of this kickstarter project:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/278203173/altergaze-mobile-virtual-reality-for-your-smartpho

..with the added magnet and nfc tag. For those interested, dodocase is selling a kit for $25 plus shipping.

this is a joke. or a very very stupid action on googles part. there is no way our phones come even close to being able to do VR. for one, the resolution of the screen is far too small to be able to just place it there. refresh rate and frequency control is also nowhere clsoe up to VR bare minimum.

ultrabiome:

This is Google slapping them in the face for investing time and effort into tech barely better than what you'll be able to do with your phone, not to mention 3D tech has been around forever. The hardware just had to catch up.

except that, you know, this is more like shooting yourself in the foot the moment somone wants to actually try it. because it wont work. its physically impossible for current phones to act like VR screens. they simply dont have the hardware requirements.

XenIneX:
What's so hard to get about this?

probably the fact that your "Regular smartphone" is incapble of outputting the required visuals? The expensive specialized hardware is there because thats what you need to make VR.

fix-the-spade:
That leaves getting a high enough frame rate out of the smartphone screen whilst it bifurcates itself and projects two images at once, whilst also figuring out how to make the phone give accurate head tracking without the vomit inducing lag.

Given where smart phones were six years ago and where they are now, a phone (or several) that can do that doesn't sound implausible to me. Maybe not in the next couple of years, but VR by the use of a cheap add on to a smart phone sounds pretty cool to me.

Also, that is way cooler than Google Glass.

given where smartphones are not its FAR from plausible. if only framerate was enough to make it stop inducing vomit we would have had it decades ago.

years down the line? sure. smartphones are already faster than consoles from pure rendering perspective, and they are catching up really fast, so maybe in a decade they will be able to render it well enough. provided we actually make screens capable of that, as currently resolution is not even close.

RicoADF:
I assume the app uses the phones sensors to do the head tracking part, so it's possible but I agree that it's quality would vary depending on the phone etc and the dedicated head sets would be far better. Still, as a dev test kit or even small use stuff it could do the job.

you also assume that phone tracking sensorts are accurate. not even close. not to mention latency problems. this is a joke, there is no way this actually works.

Epicspoon:
I have the technology for that in my 3DS. It's not hard to do.

No you dont. There is no 3DS on the market capable of VR. unless you built your own VR machine and called it 3DS.

Strazdas:
this is a joke. or a very very stupid action on googles part. there is no way our phones come even close to being able to do VR. for one, the resolution of the screen is far too small to be able to just place it there. refresh rate and frequency control is also nowhere clsoe up to VR bare minimum.

ultrabiome:

This is Google slapping them in the face for investing time and effort into tech barely better than what you'll be able to do with your phone, not to mention 3D tech has been around forever. The hardware just had to catch up.

except that, you know, this is more like shooting yourself in the foot the moment somone wants to actually try it. because it wont work. its physically impossible for current phones to act like VR screens. they simply dont have the hardware requirements.

XenIneX:
What's so hard to get about this?

probably the fact that your "Regular smartphone" is incapble of outputting the required visuals? The expensive specialized hardware is there because thats what you need to make VR.

fix-the-spade:
That leaves getting a high enough frame rate out of the smartphone screen whilst it bifurcates itself and projects two images at once, whilst also figuring out how to make the phone give accurate head tracking without the vomit inducing lag.

Given where smart phones were six years ago and where they are now, a phone (or several) that can do that doesn't sound implausible to me. Maybe not in the next couple of years, but VR by the use of a cheap add on to a smart phone sounds pretty cool to me.

Also, that is way cooler than Google Glass.

given where smartphones are not its FAR from plausible. if only framerate was enough to make it stop inducing vomit we would have had it decades ago.

One of the original prototypes of the Oculus Rift was a single smartphone screen where each half (turned horizontally) displayed the slightly offset images, which were redirected optically to the user's eyes. Clearly the tech is there and it works.

If you mean VR as a device that fills your entire field of view and refreshes fast enough that you can't notice and has motion tracking accurate and fast enough that you will never notice motion lag, this is clearly not what this device is for. But for VR that gives you a 3D window and tracks your head movement, a smartphone can clearly accomplish, even with its lower resolution and motion tech. Could it make some people sick, maybe. Will it make me sick, probably. But that's not the point. Being able to turn a phone into a simple 3D viewing device is pretty awesome. Is it a more attractive solution to people than buying a $200 headset that is tied to their computer or game console? For some, for sure.

This is like someone claiming that they don't need a car by demonstrating that they can walk next door...

And another situation for people to demonstrate that they really don't get what HMDs are for. It's really not that tricky of a concept.

ultrabiome:

One of the original prototypes of the Oculus Rift was a single smartphone screen where each half (turned horizontally) displayed the slightly offset images, which were redirected optically to the user's eyes. Clearly the tech is there and it works.

If you mean VR as a device that fills your entire field of view and refreshes fast enough that you can't notice and has motion tracking accurate and fast enough that you will never notice motion lag, this is clearly not what this device is for. But for VR that gives you a 3D window and tracks your head movement, a smartphone can clearly accomplish, even with its lower resolution and motion tech. Could it make some people sick, maybe. Will it make me sick, probably. But that's not the point. Being able to turn a phone into a simple 3D viewing device is pretty awesome. Is it a more attractive solution to people than buying a $200 headset that is tied to their computer or game console? For some, for sure.

And they quickly scrapped that because it wasnt working. you point to something they rejected and claim that its successful?

See, you use 3d projection and claim its VR. i dont think it means what you think it means. Oculus is VR. smarphones cant be VR because they dont have the hardware to be VR. there are many reaosns why, some of which you mention - motion tracking and motion lag for example. We have been able to make 3d imagery on screens for decades now, this is nothing new. VR is different thing than what this does. which is why this will never do VR till we have smartphones that at least match current Oculus in hardware.

A successful prototype using over-the-counter components (i.e. a smartphone screen) was eventually retired for more dedicated hardware phototype is completely different from something they 'rejected'.

I guess I'm unclear as to your definition of "VR", but in the context of the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheous, "VR" is a device that can send projected renderings of a 3D scene from the viewpoint of each eye (2 views) to each eye. The apparent viewpoint is changed via motion tracking of the viewers head, giving the illusion of virtual reality. There isn't a resolution, framerate or motion-induced lag requirement. It may make the experience better for the viewer to have high resolution images with little to no distortion in the image, at high frame rates and little to no lag from the motion tracking tech, but it does not invalidate it's designation as a "VR" headset.

Google cardboard and the associated app takes a 3D scene, renders a projection on each half of the smartphone screen, which is then optically projected onto each eye. It's still VR.

Strazdas:

Epicspoon:
I have the technology for that in my 3DS. It's not hard to do.

No you dont. There is no 3DS on the market capable of VR. unless you built your own VR machine and called it 3DS.

Yes actually I do because I was referring to the motion tracking, not the VR. I don't even understand how you made that mistake, go back and read the comment.

 

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