There’s a virtual-reality viewer already on the market that’s fun and easy to use – and you can get a version of it for just $25 (£15.50). It’s called the DodoCase VR viewer, and it’s about the most fun you can have with a smartphone, a lolly stick, and a cardboard box.
DodoCase is a San Francisco start-up best known for making iPad cases. Thanks to Google, however, just about anyone can now build a simple contraption that turns your smartphone into a virtual-reality machine. At its annual developer conference in June, Google introduced an open-source blueprint for do-it-yourself VR viewers, called Google Cardboard. It sounded like a joke, but it isn’t. It’s ingenious.
The idea behind Google Cardboard was that you don’t need a bunch of fancy technology to experience immersive, three-dimensional movies and games. All you really need is your smartphone, some cardboard, a pair of biconvex lenses and some Velcro to hold it all together. With the right tools, you can build one from scratch at home.
But it’s a lot easier to buy a kit like the DodoCase VR, which is among the simplest and best designed of several third-party commercial Google Cardboard kits. (DodoCase co-founder and “Chief Dodo” Patrick Buckley is actually an MIT-trained mechanical engineer who worked as a scientist before he started making skeuomorphic iPad cases.) Other well-reviewed Cardboard implementations include kits from Knox Labs and I Am Cardboard.
Each comes with slightly different components – the lolly stick as a trigger button for games was DodoCase’s idea, not Google’s – but they all work in essentially the same way. You start by loading up one of several smartphone apps that’s optimized for virtual-reality viewers, like Asteroid VR and the Cardboard app for Android, or Dive City Rollercoaster and The Height for iOS.