It looks like an elementary school science project, but it works like a gizmo straight out of a Phillip K. Dick novel. In an era of tech where the electronic and industrial reign supreme, Google Cardboard is a shining beacon of laughable simplicity and DIY-style ingenuity.
A recent trend on YouTube, emerging in the past couple years, has been 360-degree videos, labeled the “gateway drug to virtual reality” by The Verge. And I’m inclined to agree: please use VR responsibly. I personally went through a three-day bender of non-stop spaceship games, rollercoaster simulators, virtual escape rooms, as well as the occasional foray into the rabbit hole of — well, let’s not go there. (Google Cardboard doesn’t fare well with oil-based lubricants. I’m just forewarning you.) At the end of it, I literally felt like Leo in Inception.
Television shows have also been joining the panoramic pandemonium (see Game of Thrones, Adventure Time, and The Simpsons). Full-fledged television shows and films should breach the mainstream in the next couple years — possibly sooner.
On November 10th, Google released a new VR platform called Daydream View, made with a lightweight fabric as opposed to an empty shoebox-looking device.
But, come on, really? You’re going to pick that over the Google Cardboard? Playing with Google Cardboard makes me feel like a little child, crawling through makeshift cardboard tunnels and castles made of pillows; Daydream View looks like a plushy accessory designed to appease fancy-pants first-world inhabitants who buy couches with cup-holder armrests.
Oh, but you want your VR headset to come in a fancy, luxurious-looking colour, you say? (Excuse me while I unfurl my brow.) You can colour on cardboard. Just saying.
But whichever VR platform you choose, I wish you all the best on your eventual trip into this boundless manifestation of the digital realm. It only gets better from here: Google plans to literally place the world in your hands.
And sure, these smartphone-based platforms may be considered “soft” compared to the real stuff, like the Oculus Rift or Playstation VR, but Google Cardboard is the OG virtual reality platform for Android. It will always have a place on my shelf — and in my heart.