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Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard
Google Cardboard fully assembled
Developer Google
Type DIY virtual reality headset
Release date 2014

Google Cardboard is a virtual reality (VR) platform developed by Google for use with a fold-out cardboard mount for a mobile phone. It is intended as a low cost system to encourage interest and development in VR and VR applications. It was invented by David Coz and Damien Henry, Google engineers at the Google Cultural Institute in Paris, in their 20% "Innovation Time Off",[1] and introduced at the 2014 Google I/O developers conference.

Google Cardboard headsets are built out of simple, low-cost components. The headset specifications were designed by Google, but there is no official manufacturer or vendor for the device. Instead, Google made the list of parts, schematics, and assembly instructions freely available on their website, allowing people to assemble Cardboard themselves from readily available parts. These parts are a piece of cardboard cut into a precise shape, 45 mm focal length lenses, magnets or capacitive tape, hook and loop fastener (such as Velcro), a rubber band, and an optional near field communication (NFC) tag. Google provides extra recommendations for large scale manufacturing, and complete kits based on these plans are available for less than $5 from multiple vendors, who have also created a number of Cardboard variations.

Once the kit is assembled, a smartphone is inserted in front of the lenses, and friction from the rubber band holds the phone in place. A Google Cardboard–compatible app splits the smartphone display image into two, one for each eye. The lenses create a distortion effect that sends each half to one eye and creates the impression of a stereoscopic 3D image with a wide field of view. The first version of Cardboard could fit phones with screens up to Script error: No such module "convert". and used magnets as a simple input button that required a compass sensor in phone. An updated version released at Google I/O 2015 works with phones up to Script error: No such module "convert". and replaces the magnet switch with a conductive lever button that triggers a touch event on the touch screen sensor of the phone for better compatibility with a wide range of smartphones. A port of the Google Cardboard demonstration app to Apple's iOS mobile operating system was released at the same conference.[2]

Google provides two software development kits (SDKs) for developing Cardboard applications, both using OpenGL: one for Android using Java, and one for the game engine Unity using C#.[3] After initially only supporting Android, Google announced iOS support for the Unity plugin in May 2015 at the Google I/O 2015 conference.[4]

Third-party apps with Cardboard support are available on the Google Play store[5] and Apple App Store for iOS. In addition to native Cardboard apps, there are Google Chrome VR Experiments implemented using WebGL; phones, including Apple's, that support WebGL can run Google's web experiments.[6][7]

In November 2014, Volvo released Volvo-branded Cardboard goggles and an Android app, Volvo Reality, to let the user explore the XC90.[8]

In February 2015 toy maker Mattel, in cooperation with Google, announced a VR version of the stereoscopic viewer View-Master, supporting Android upon release in fall 2015 and later iOS and Windows smartphones, which will use software built with Cardboard SDK.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Statt, Nick (June 25, 2014). "Facebook has Oculus, Google has Cardboard". CNET. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ Lee, Nicole (May 28, 2015). "Google Cardboard VR for iPhone hands-on". Engadget. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Google Cardboard – Google". Google. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  4. ^ Tarantola, Andrew (May 28, 2015). "Google Cardboard now works on iOS". Engadget. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  5. ^ Broida, Rick (July 17, 2014). "Five more apps that work with Google Cardboard: Games, flight sims, movie players, and more, all great fits for your Google VR headset.". CNET. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Virtual Reality". Chrome Experiments. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ Johnson, Dave (August 18, 2014). "Google Cardboard works on the iPhone, too". CBS News. Retrieved August 19, 2014. 
  8. ^ Ziegler, Chris (November 13, 2014). "Volvo is using Google Cardboard to get people inside its new SUV". The Verge. Vox Media. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  9. ^ Baig, Edward C. (February 13, 2015). "View-Master rides Google Cardboard into virtual reality". USA Today. Retrieved May 30, 2015. 

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