Meet The Oculus Thrift: Here's How You Can Make A Virtual Reality Headset With $21 And A Pizza Box
If you want to make your own virtual reality headset, the answer might be as close as the nearest pizza box.
In an attempt to bring inexpensive VR to Android, Google's set its team to work on something known as the Cardboard Project. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a virtual reality headset made entirely of carboard and household objects and held together with glue.
It's quite literally the thriftiest virtual reality headset on the market.
The Cardboard Project is designed entirely from inexpensive materials, including the pieces of a pizza box, lenses, magnets, velcro, a rubber band, and an optional NFC tag.These are all materials that can easily be found around the house (or purchased at the nearest hardware store, if you're so inclined). Better yet, none of them are going to exactly break the bank - even the tools used to assemble the headset (scissors, glue, a ruler, and an X-acto knife) are readily available to pretty much anyone.
Detailed instructions on how to build a cardboard headset of your very own can be found on Google's Developer Site.
Google handed out its own version of the low-budget gadget to Google I/O attendees last week; complete with lenses and a QR code that allowed access to the VR Tour mobiler app. Setup was simple: users simply had to put the headset on, load the app onto an Android phone, and position it in a small holster at the front of the device. Awesome, right?
Now, understandably, Cardboard isn't going to match the quality of something like the Oculus Rift. According to Dave Tach of Polygon, the depth of field provided by the Macguyver-esque VR peripheral is relatively low, and the head tracking is currently anything but smooth; the footage in the application also moved far more quickly than it should have. The end result was that after about a minute of use, attendees started to feel a bit of motion sickness.
But hey, it's $20.
According to Google, Cardboard should be compatible with "most"phones running Android 4.2 or above. The Cardboard app can be downloaded free from Google Play, and contains a bunch of Google Earth-driven VR tours; including strolls through Versailles and Paris. There's also a Devkit for Cardboard, complete with full documentation for those of you who think it'd be fun to develop your own stuff for Cardboard.
Even if it's not exactly perfect, this is a pretty huge announcement from Google. I've no doubt that - with the right developers on-board - the product can be made significantly better. Maybe it'll never approach the level of quality provided by headsets like the Rift, but it'll be a huge leap forward if it even comes close.
I've always held that - particularly given how revolutionary the technology has the potential to be - virtual reality should be accessible to everyone. Money shouldn't be an object. Now, thanks to Google, it isn't. A whole new world of tech is only a pizza box away.
Just, uh...try to avoid getting any water on it. Or sweat. Come to think of it, it doesn't look like it'd be all that comfortable or practical to use for long periods, does it?