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Use Your Phone To Try Virtual Reality

google cardboard2

If you’re a sci-fi nerd like me, then ideas like virtual reality, holographic projectors and robots are pretty freaking sweet. But, while it will be some time before you have your very own JARVIS, virtual reality is not all that far away. In fact, if you have a smartphone, cardboard and some time on your hands, then you’re already halfway to making your own virtual reality goggles!

What you need

I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t want a virtual reality (VR) headset and now with a little bit of effort, your dreams can come true! If you’re too broke to buy a pre-made one and too stubborn to get a box kit, here’s a list of things you’ll need to make your own:

  • Google Cardboard blueprint files, which can be downloaded here
  • Cardboard – nothing too thick; pizza boxes or shoe boxes would probably work best. The kind of cardboard you use in moving boxes is probably too thick.
  • Magnets – Google Cardboard calls for a “neodymium ring magnet” or a “ceramic disk magnet” (whatever those mean). I would imagine that a small round magnet that’s a little less than an inch across from pretty much any professional craft store would probably do it.
  • Velcro – two strips to hold the top closed
  • Rubber Band – to hold the phone in place securely
  • Lenses – this is likely the only part you’ll actually have to go out and purchase. You need biconvex lenses, although lenses with a 45mm focal distance would work. Google recommends these.
  • Assembly tools – glue, ruler, scissors and an X-acto knife.

That’s it! Mostly things that are easy to get your hands on (with the exception of the lenses). Add a little bit of creativity, lots of glue and voila! VR headset just for you. Optional additions include some sort of strap to hold the headset on your face and a NFC tag to program your phone with the URL cardboard://v1.0.0

What if I wanna just buy one?

For those of you who just don’t have the time, patience and steady hands to create your own VR headset, you can actually purchase completed kits online with a little bit of searching. You can expect to spend $40 for a completed cardboard headset to upwards of $200 for a full plastic headset.

Alternatively, if you just don’t feel like tracking down all of the different pieces, you can purchase a kit from various sites online for around $15 – $30. These kits should include everything you need to make your own–including those pesky lenses–along with instructions. I’ve not tried any of the kits, but I’ve heard really good things about the DodoCase VR.

How it works

google cardboard

So you have a smartphone. You have your very own VR headset. You’re ready to dive into a virtual world. But how?

Well, there are several different apps that you can download in order to try out your nifty new pizza-smelling cardboard technology of awesome. A few examples include the Asteroid VR game, or the Cardboard app for Android. For iOS users, try out The Height or Dive City Rollercoaster (I just hope you don’t get carsick). Load up the app, slide the phone into the case, hold it up to your face and enjoy!

Inside that cardboard box, your phone will be splitting the image into two screens, which will then be distorted by the lenses to give the appearance of wrapping around your vision. The app will track where you move, and you will be able to look up, down and side-to-side, just like a real virtual reality should be.

Baby Steps

Of course, the apps are still pretty rudimentary and I’ve heard lots of people say that they get vertigo or feel dizzy from playing around with them. Right now, the technology is definitely in its¬†infancy and still has a long way to go. I mean, let’s be honest. You’re holding a cardboard box up to your face and whipping your head around while “oohing” and “aahing” and slightly blurry wrap-around graphics. You are most certainly going to look like an idiot, but maybe that’s the price of taking a peek into the future. Happy viewing!