Maybe you’ve heard of virtual reality. Maybe the concept intrigues you to such a degree, you checked out how much it would cost to buy one of those nifty Oculus Rift headsets. Maybe you saw the note on the Oculus Rift website that the device isn’t yet available for consumer use, and the news crushed your soul to a fine pulp.
But never fear, Google has a solution for you: a step-by-step guide to building your own virtual-reality goggles out of plain ol’ cardboard. Total cost to build: maybe $20, depending on whether Amazon or the retailer of your choice is having a sale on lenses, Velcro, rubber bands and magnets.
If cut and folded according to Google’s directions, a corrugated cardboard sheet will transform—like magic!—into a headset that slips over the eyes. Pop in a pair of lenses, insert your Google Android smartphone into the folding tray in front of the eyeholes, and in theory you’re good to go. An accompanying Android download will “optimize” YouTube, Google Earth and other apps for virtual reality.
“Virtual reality has made exciting progress over the past several years,” read a note on Google’s Cardboard website. “However, developing for VR still requires expensive, specialized hardware. Thinking about how to make VR accessible to more people, a group of VR enthusiasts at Google experimented with using a smartphone to drive VR experiences.”
No, this isn’t a joke. Google really wants developers to build third-party apps for its Cardboard platform. Between this attempt at DIY VR and Google Glass, the search-engine giant is now officially in the running for the title of Builder of the World’s Ugliest Headgear.
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