Google Cardboard – A Hands on Look

It has been talked about a lot since Google I/O and I’ve been eagerly waiting to receive mine in the post. So what is it?

Google Cardboard is a VR (Virtual Reality) headset created by the folks over at Google. Essentially, it is a cardboard headset that utilizes the power of your smartphone to create a decent VR experience at very low cost. It was Google’s way of extending VR to a broader audience and allowing more developers to create innovative games, apps and new hardware with VR in mind.

Google released the plans entirely for free here so you can make your own!


Google Cardboard

  1. Cardboard
    Corrugated cardboard sheet, preferably E Flute (corrugated cardboard comes in a variety of thicknesses called “flutes”), available at many art supply stores and online . For best results, you should look for strong, thin cardboard (sturdy shoe box rather than moving box). Minimum size: 8.75in (22cm) by 22in (56cm), and 0.06in (1.5mm) thickness. Online sources here and here
  2. Lenses
    This is the trickiest component. Lenses that have a 45mm focal distance might work. Biconvex lenses work best because they prevent distortion around the edges. We used the Durovis OpenDive Lens Kit available here (US) and here (EU).
  3. Magnets
    One neodymium ring magnet – like this or this – and one ceramic disk magnet – like this or this. Approximate size: 0.75in (19mm) diameter and 0.12in (3mm) thickness.
  4. Velcro
    Two strips of regular strength adhesive-backed velcro. Approximate size: 0.75in (20mm) by 1.25in (30mm).
  5. Rubber band
    One rubber band, to prevent the phone from sliding out. Minimum length of 3.2in (8cm).
  6. NFC tag (optional)
    One sticker NFC tag. Program it with the URL cardboard://v1.0.0

You’ll also need a ruler, glue, and scissors, an X-acto knife, or access to a laser cutter.

If you don’t feel like chasing down the individual components, there are a few places offering kits. I’ve bought 2, one from Unofficial Cardboard and the other from Dodocase.
I’ve only just received my one from Unofficial Cardboard today. It’s exactly as described and is the first of the two to arrive despite being ordered a week after the one from Dodocase. They seem to be in high demand so expect slow delivery (especially outside of the US).

I’ve just checked their respective sites again today and it seems they’ve both altering the design, offering a range of colours or a more tailored lens fitting. Check them both out and let me know in the comments below where you got yours from and what your experience was like.

I was very excited to get mine today. It was already assembled so all I had to do was install the Google Cardboard app attach my Nexus 5 and voilà! You can also visit from your device to experience a range of other demos.

Undoubtedly we will see an ever-evolving version of the headset available to buy. Hopefully there will also be a lot of brilliant designs popping up from individual users.
I’ll be keeping up to date with any new designs or any interesting VR games or apps, so be sure to subscribe or follow me to hear about it.

For those who missed it, here’s the presentation from Google I/O earlier this year:



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