Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Virtual Reality: Now an Economical Reality


Jason Boryszewski
When people think of virtual reality, they think of an expensive piece of technology that costs hundreds of dollars, or even more.  In some cases this is true.  The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that costs $600 - far more than most people are willing to spend on a brand new piece of  , despite all the hype surrounding the Oculus Rift.  Google has managed to hit a more reasonable price point with Google Cardboard, only costing $15 or so for a kit or free if you already have the materials yourself.
The headset itself is exactly as it sounds.  It's literally just a piece of cardboard, held together by no more than velcro and tape.  Your phone fits inside (with a compatible app open)  and you view the screen through a pair of 40mm focal distance lenses.  The headset holds your phone at the optimal distance from the lenses, so that when a compatible app is opened up a 3d effect is created.  Some models of the viewer also include a magnet that acts as a button on the side of the viewer, as you are unable to interact with your screen when it is inside the viewer.  This magnet interacts with your phone's magnetometer, normally used as a compass in your phone.
There are many different apps available (Android only) to use with Google Cardboard.  The Cardboard app itself has a few different options.  You can fly around in Google Earth, "visiting" locations such as Chicago or Bryce Canyon.  You can also go on a virtual tour of the Palace of Versailles, or view videos saved on your phone in 3d.  There are a few games on the Google Play store that work with Google Cardboard also, such as Lamper.
Overall, Google Cardboard is a cheap, easy to use, and most of all fun way to experience virtual reality for the first time.  And before you buy one yourself, we have a pair down in the hack shack that can be used with your own android phone.  If you don't have an android phone yourself, feel free to ask a hack shack employee if they have one and would allow you to use it.  All it takes is one quick download and you are ready to go.  
Works Cited
Ripton, JT. "Google Cardboard: Everything You Need to Know." TechRadar. Future Plc, 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 26 May 2016.

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