Remember that neat little cardboard contraption that turns your Android smartphone into a pair of do-it-yourself virtual reality goggles? Well, it seems that Google isn’t content to let that cheeky little idea die. Instead, the folks at Mountain View are doubling down on this adorable low-cost VR solution, and dedicating an entire section of the Play Store to Google Cardboard.
In this little corner of Google’s app store, 24 virtual reality apps are currently available, and most of them are free. Undoubtedly, the most interesting among them is Google’s own app simply dubbed Cardboard. Watch YouTube videos on a virtual big screen, view the entire globe with Google Earth, and take a tour of Versailles all while sitting in your living room in a pair of sweats.
It looks a bit like a… bear… when you flatten Cardboard into icon form
These demos aren’t much more than clever time-wasters, but considering how young modern VR solutions are, a little novelty is nothing to sneeze at. After all, virtual reality still seems like science fiction to most of us, and it’ll take a while for that new-tech-smell to wear off. For now, let’s just enjoy these quirky apps for what they are.
If you want to give these awesome goggles a try, you have two options to choose from. Either download the instructions, and make your very own VR solution from scratch, or simply purchase a pre-made set from a number of third-party manufacturers. Shove in your phone, download the Cardboard app, and you’re ready to rock.
Want to make a VR app of your very own? You can do that too! Simply head over to the Google Cardboard developer site, and download the SDK. If you’re already comfortable making Android apps, then you’re well on your way to making something cool for other cardboard enthusiasts. In fact, if you make something particularly useful or clever, you just might find your app featured alongside other VR hits such as Paul McCartney and The Hobbit VR Experience.
Despite the fact that the big-name headsets like the Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus aren’t even on shelves yet, interest continues to spread well beyond gaming. Everything from tourism pitches to virtual concerts are being developed with these headsets in mind, and that’s only going to grow when the first generation of modern headsets makes its way into the hands of the eager public. But for now, Google Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear VR will have to suffice.