|Category||VR device (smartphone holder)|
|Announced||25 June 2014 |
Consumers: June 2014 
|Price||5 USD starting price (October 2015)|
|Operating system||smartphone dependent|
|Weight||100 g on average|
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality device made of foldable cardboard and a pair of lenses designed to house a variety of smartphones. The smartphone then plays the role of a processing and displaying unit. Google Cardboard is thus not a standalone device, and as other similar virtual reality devices, which it inspired, needs a smartphone to display the media content. The current version introduced at Google I/O 2015 supports Android or iOS-based smartphones up to the diagonal size of 150 mm (6 inches). It was created by Google engineers David Coz and Damien Henry in Paris in the weeks preceding Google I/O 2014.
Cardboard is not sold by Google, Inc. itself. Instead, Google open-sourced the schematics and the list of parts, and potential customers can now choose from a selection of devices offered by more than 9 manufacturers. Although, this number does not include the smartphone holders inspired by Google Cardboard, such as Beenoculus, Cmoar or more advanced ones such as Gear VR. Users can also build the device themselves, using the freely available schematics and manuals accessible on the Google Cardboard website.
Google also provides two software development kits that developers can use to create virtual reality content or adapt their already existing applications to it.
As of January 2016, more than 5 million Google Cardboard viewers was shipped.
The Cardboard platform consists of following parts: foldable cardboard torso, two lenses, loop and hook fasteners, rubber band and optionally magnets (older version of Cardboard) and an adhesive NFC tag. These are assembled together according to the schematics included into a shape of enclosed virtual reality headset. Some variants also include a head strap for hands free use. After the assembly, a smartphone is inserted into the front compartment behind the lenses. User can then use one of the Cardboard compatible applications to split the display into stereoscopic image and display virtual reality content.
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality smartphone holder that offers affordable entry point into virtual reality content that also is customizable and works with a big range of smartphone devices.
Company & People
David Coz - Software Engineer at Google, co-initiator of Google Cardboard
Damien Henry - Technical Program Manager at Google, co-initiator of Google Cardboard
Andrew Nartker - Product Manager at Google
Jon Wiley - Lead Designer, former Lead Designer of Google Search
Ethical & Health Issues
Google Cardboard-based smartphone holders are an affordable way for non-profit organizations to make a big impact on possible donors and to showcase their work. The immersivness even a simple device like Cardboard can achieve can be used to greatly influence the opinions of the viewers. This, of course, can be used with good or bad intentions. For more about this issue, please see the Virtual_Reality_Devices#Other_applications.
There are no ethical or health issues connected to this particular device. For more general issues connected with virtual reality devices, please see the Virtual Reality Devices synopsis.
Enhancement, therapy and treatment as well. - Google Cardboard is mainly marketed as an entertainment device. It serves as a gateway to virtual reality media. But it can also be used for virtual reality therapy. Smartphone holders like Google Cardboard are favoured among the creators of these applications. As a form of treatment, it can be used as a tool for the treatment of amblyopia.
See Virtual_Reality_Devices for more information.
Public & Media Impact and Presentation
Journalists got their first experience with Google Cardboard on the Google I/O conference when they were handed now traditional attendee packages that included a par of smartwatches and the Cardboard DIY set. The headset kit was seen as a practical joke at first but reporters quickly realized the great potential Cardboard could have. Reviewers welcomed the idea of a low-cost, simple virtual reality headset. Even the creators themselves did not expect such a big success. In an interview for Engadget, Andrew Nartker said that they "built it mostly for hobbyists and enthusiasts like ourselves, for the maker community. That was really the intention, to put the knowledge and tools in the hands of makers." Articles about Cardboard admit that it is not a perfect virtual reality headset, nor it will be the last one users will buy, but that is is a good way to try out virtual reality with low effort and at a low cost. Wired called Cardboard the "gateway drug to VR" and welcomed the fact that users do not need to have an expensive computer to run the virtual reality. Another Wired article called Google Cardboard "one of the smartest, quietest, most innovative things going on at Google" and recognizes Cardboard as a project that "could someday be vital to your company’s continued growth."
Project Cardboard inspired several manufacturers and developers to offer their own version of the low-cost smartphone holder. The enthusiasm went so war entire new business was created as a result. Companies such as KnoxLabs, DODOcase or Unofficial Cardboard all offer their own take on Google Cardboard. Big manufacturers also use Cardboard designs to promote their other products. Volvo uses it for virtual showcase of their cars interior. LG promotes their new G3 smartphone by bundling it together with Cardboard-based virtual reality viewer.
Related Technologies, Projects, or Scientific Research
- 3D4amb project - This projects investigates the possibility of using Google Cardboard, and other similar devices, in the treatment of amblyopia in young children.
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- Get Your Cardboard. 2015. Google [online]. Available online at: https://www.google.com/intl/en_ALL/get/cardboard/get-cardboard/ (Retrieved 21 October 2015))
- HAYWARD, Andrew. Why Google Cardboard – not Oculus – is crucial to the future of VR: Your Android phone and a pizza box is the start of a billion dollar industry. Wareable [online]. 2015, 19 October. Available online at: https://www.wareable.com/vr/wareable-why-google-cardboard-not-oculus-rift-will-drive-the-future-of-vr-976 (Retrieved 21 October 2015))
- Google I/O 2015: About. Google [online]. 2015. Available online at: https://events.google.com/io2015/about (Retrieved 21 October 2015))
- JOHNSON, Dave. Google Cardboard works on the iPhone, too. CBS News [online]. 2014, 18 August. Available online at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/google-cardboard-works-on-the-iphone-too/ (Retrieved 30 October 2015)
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- GARGANTINI, Angelo, et al. A Low-cost Virtual Reality Game for Amblyopia Rehabilitation. Available online at: http://cs.unibg.it/gargantini/research/abstracts/rehab2015.html (Retrieved 2 December 2015)
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- BRANSTETTER, Ben. Cardboard is everything Google Glass never was. The Kernel [online]. 2015, 28 June. Available online at: http://kernelmag.dailydot.com/issue-sections/staff-editorials/13490/google-cardboard-review-plus/ (Retrieved 30 October 2015)
- LEE, Nicole. Google's road to virtual reality begins with Cardboard [online]. 2014, 10 December. Available online at: http://www.engadget.com/2014/12/10/google-cardboard/ (Retrieved 30 October 2015)
- PIERCE, David. Google Cardboard Is VR’s Gateway Drug. Wired [online]. 2015, 28 May. Available online at: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/try-google-cardboard (Retrieved 30 October 2015))
- BARRETT, Brian. How a Piece of Cardboard Could Be Google’s Ticket to VR. Wired [online]. 2015, 27 May. Available online at: http://www.wired.com/2015/05/google-cardboard-virtual-reality/ (Retrieved 30 October 2015)
- HAYWARD, Andrew. Why Google Cardboard – not Oculus – is crucial to the future of VR. Wareable [online]. 2015, 19 October. Available online at: https://www.wareable.com/vr/wareable-why-google-cardboard-not-oculus-rift-will-drive-the-future-of-vr-976 (Retrieved 30 October 2015)
- ZIEGLER, Chris. Volvo is using Google Cardboard to get people inside its new SUV [online]. 2014, 13 November. Available online at: http://www.theverge.com/2014/11/13/7217397/volvo-is-using-google-cardboard-to-get-people-inside-its-new-suv (Retrieved 30 October 2015))
- RUBIN, Ben Fox. For LG's G3, virtual reality is just a bundle away. CNET [online]. 2015, 9 February. Available online at: http://www.cnet.com/news/lg-to-give-away-new-vr-for-g3-headsets/ (Retrieved 30 October 2015)
- 3D4amb: 3D for the diagnosis and treatment of amblyopia. Available online at: http://3d4amb.unibg.it/index.html (Retrieved 2 December 2015))