Virtual reality is currently a field in which companies like Oculus VR and Sony are known in. Google not so much, although the company does have Google Glass, although we guess that doesn’t really count as virtual reality. That being said, it seems that Google has entertained ideas of virtual reality thanks to a project that they are calling Cardboard. It looks like a virtual reality headset and if you thought that it was a joke, think again. Apparently it is very real, according to a website setup by Google. According to the project’s description, “Virtual reality has made exciting progress over the past several years. However, developing for VR still requires expensive, specialized hardware. 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.”
There’s a lot going on in the virtual reality space lately. The up-and-coming Oculus Rift VR headset was recently purchased by Facebook to the tune of $2 billion. And PlayStation 4 maker Sony announced their own VR headset, Project Morpheus, this year at GDC. Everyone’s been waiting for the other big players in gadgets and video games to unveil their own, and while Microsoft didn’t show anything at E3 ,Google revealed their own VR solution today at I/O 2014. Google’s answer to VR? Cardboard. Or, rather, a DIY cardboard headset equipped with cheap lenses into which you slide your smartphone. Simply download the Cardboard app and you’re ready to roll, all for a few bucks in materials. Which is—let’s face it—about as weird an idea as anyone could dream up, but also sort of brilliant; a truly “open” solution to virtual reality that hearkens back to Google’s roots and commitment to open development. And one that sidesteps a lot of the challenges facing other VR gadgets by utilizing the ubiquitous smartphone. The actual construction of the cardboard VR headset will probably deter many would-be virtual-reality-goers, but it really doesn’t look difficult at all for anyone with a knack for putting stuff together.