Google has created Google Cardboard VR, a low cost virtual reality viewer designed to make virtual reality cheaper and more accessible to those interesting in building web or mobile VR apps. In this post I take a look at how Google VR works and explore some of the potential uses for businesses.

How does Google Cardboard VR Work?

In Google’s own words, Google Cardboard is a ‘a no-frills enclosure that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset, and the accompanying open software toolkit that makes writing VR software as simple as building a web or mobile app’.

The official Google Cardboard app (and third party apps) transposes the two left and right stereoscopic images on a user’s smartphone into 3D, when the user places their smartphone into the cardboard viewer and looks through it. A magnet on the side of the box, triggers near field communication (NFC) to open Apps automatically and also serves a select button to complete select actions within the open app. To help people create their own applications, Google has created a developer kit.

Google Cardboard viewer kits can be built using readily available parts or by buying a Google Cardboard kit from £2.50 to £20

Google Cardboard VR kit
An unassembled Google Cardboard VR kit looks like this

 

Google Cardboard VR Viewer
Once built it looks like this.

 

Inserting your smartphone into the cardboard viewer
Insert your smartphone into the cardboard viewer

 

Front view of Google Cardboard viewer
Pick up the Google Cardboard glasses and start an app

 

Windy day Google app
App images are split on two halves of your phone screens but become 3d with Google Cardboard
The Orbulus App Cardboard VR is quite impressive
Third party apps are available, the Orbulus App is quite impressive

Brief History of Virtual Reality (VR) and the upcoming VR revolution

The term virtual reality has been around since 1938 when the French playwright, poet, actor, and director Antonin Artaud described theatre as “la réalité virtuelle” in book The Theatre and Its Double (1938). Virtual reality was made more popular in the 1990’s by films such as Lawnmower Man and Brainstorm and video game companies Nintendo and Sega who released technology based on LCD screens and stereoscopic 3D that allowed for the tracking of the users head.

More recent VR developments include Facebook’s purchase of virtual reality company Oculus VR for 2 billion dollars and Sony announcing Project Morpheus virtual reality headset for the PS4. Samsung are also developing their own technology and according to the Guardian newspaper we are set for a virtual reality revolution with some of the major players set to release VR technology in 2015

What Can Google Cardboard VR be Used for?

The practical uses for VR are only limited by your creativity (and of course budget). Volvo has created a Volvo XC90 AR app which can be used to experience an inside view of their new Volvo XC90 SUV vehicle. The official Google Cardboard app includes Google Earth, versions of YouTube, Street Vue as well as a tour guide, photo application, a 3d exhibit viewer and Windy Day game.

The obvious business areas that will benefit from using VR, are the entertainment and consumer industries with video gaming, movies and flight simulators particularly suitable.

However, arguably VR is appropriate for any any business where they would benefit from giving customers the ability to interact with a 3D representation of a product or location. For example, a luxury hotel or conference centre may want to provide potential customers with a tour of their facilities. The real estate and property sector are already using virtual reality to allow people to see the inside and outside of buildings before they are built.

What do you think to Google’s Low Cost VR Solution?

I have to admit that I was quite impressed by Google Cardboard as I wasn’t really expecting much to begin with. I do recommend that you at least try it to get a better idea of the potential for your business.

Why not let us know what you think about Google Cardboard or VR in general by commenting below?


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