back to article Google's Oculus-defying VR headset is made of CARDBOARD – no joke

Among the other announcements at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco this week, the Chocolate Factory says it's moving into virtual reality – albeit in a decidedly low-fi way. Attendees of the Wednesday morning I/O keynote each received a free VR headset called Cardboard – so named because it is, in fact, made out of …


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  1. Tachikoma

    I had something similar on the PSP for the game Metal Gear Ac!d 2, worked quite well considering the resolution is a fraction of a modern smartphone. Wouldn't mind giving this a try just out of curiosity.

  2. Zola

    Precisely why Oculus was never a $2Bn business

    And maybe not even a $200Mn business.

    VR hardware, assuming VR takes off at all, will become cheap as chips, with the cheapest solutions using the smartphone as the display - there's already several products coming to market that are basically better quality plastic versions of this Google "Cardboard".

    As long as the experience is "good enough" (and reviews of these "Cardboard"-type devices suggest it can/will be) then it's going to be hard justifying the expense of custom VR hardware that does only a marginally better job.

    The question, then, is what the hell Facebook decided was worth $2Bn because it simply can't be the hardware business, and yet the software side of VR doesn't look like it has that many secrets that could justify such a price tag, secrets that weren't already discovered by Evans & Sutherland et al.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Precisely why Oculus was never a $2Bn business

      3D games were "good enough" with a Geforce3 but that hasn't stopped everyone chasing greater and greater power. SD TV was "good enough" but people still wanted HD.

    2. EddieD
      Thumb Up

      Re: Precisely why Oculus was never a $2Bn business

      Absolutely right - when it's cheap enough, folk will buy into it - the same was true for cars, computers, mobile phones, you name its.

      I'm just off to dissect some boxes (but I doubt my Nexus will fit...)

    3. Andy 73 Silver badge

      Re: Precisely why Oculus was never a $2Bn business

      Strangely, I find myself disagreeing. It's true you can strap a phone to your head for pennies, but I suspect it demonstrates (as per the review here) just how much virtual 3D sucks, even with modern mobile graphics hardware driving it.

      The Oculus seems to be showing that there's a bunch of 'other stuff' that has to be solved to get properly immersive VR to work - display refresh rates, latency and lag, accurate position sensing, robust optics and so on. Much of that is just not worth integrating in a phone on the off-chance you'll strap it to your head, and some of it is no doubt patentable. The many failed attempts at virtual 3d over the years seem to show that 'good enough' is not good enough because we're highly sensitive to artificial reality being not quite right.

      It's not clear to me whether Oculus are even going to solve this. They're iterating over the hardware and the experience is 'getting better' with each iteration. That suggests that it's not quite there yet. I don't see this becoming commodity hardware any time soon - and that lag has historically been enough for new entrants to move in to dominate a market (eg. Sony with the Playstation, Apple with the iPhone)

    4. Christian Berger

      Why Facebook bought them

      "The question, then, is what the hell Facebook decided was worth $2Bn"

      That's actually rather simple. Imagine you have money invested in Facebook. Imagine it's 20% of the Facebook stock since you are a big bank. Obviously you know that the bubble is going to burst eventually, so it makes sense to sell at least some of your stock while it's high. Buying low and selling high is a typical strategy.

      If you simply sell your stocks, everyone will assume you don't believe in it any more and the bubble might burst prematurely. It's a rist you don't want to take.

      Now let's look at how such a sale usually happens. Facebook gets the company in exchange for money and Facebook stocks, but a large part of the payment is actual money.

      So if you own stocks in some smaller company as well as Facebook, you have a double advantage. First of all you will exchange some of your shares for actual money, second you don't poke the bubble and the rest of your shares even might gain value.

      At least with Instagram and Whatsapp there was at least one investment company in such a situation. It's "SEQUOIA Capital".

  3. Grikath

    It lacks..

    Duct tape.

    It simply isn't a proper hack if it doesn't use copious amounts of duct tape.

  4. Creamy-G00dness

    All very interesting and a good idea but............

    Have you seen the shite that passes for games on mobile platforms these days?

  5. Simon Rockman

    Lots of this stuff around

    I know of at least three commercial products which are similar to this and the Unity middleware supports side by side 3D. The quality with a good mobile phone is better than a standard definition Oculus Rift.

    The things I'd like to see are a 3D modelling program of the calibre of Rhino which let you use a headset and model at the same time, and much more ambitious something which used two cameras on the back of the phone to let you see "through" it to the real world and then superimpose VR stuff on it then tracking hands with something like a Leap Motion to let you interact with the virtual elements in the 3D world.

    You could have a UI for creating 3D models - which where then put into games or 3D printed - which could be much more like natural sculpting - than the 2D world.

  6. David Paul Morgan

    perhaps someone could write ...

    ... a camera plug-in that can generate pseudo-ViewMaster slides?

    annoyingly (off topic) why didn't viewmaster ever make a camaer? it could have used 110 film cartridges and had a similar form-factor, too.

    1. ThomH

      Re: perhaps someone could write ...

      I have a Sputnik* which takes stereoscopic photos onto 120 film, i.e. images are captured at an absurdly high definition 60mmx60mm per lens, at the cost of only six fitting on a roll of film. On the plus side it's the same format used by hipsters in their Holgas so film, development and printing are still widely available; also suitable reels are available for most developing tubs so you can cut out the middle part. It's even easier to develop at home than 35mm because there is no cartridge. It's just literally a roll of film.

      Good luck with 110 nowadays. I'm sure someone can handle it but it's going to cost.

      * — named before and independently of the satellite as the word literally means a thing that goes with a traveller, I think.

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  8. PeterM42
    Thumb Down

    There is no doubt it will become INCREDIBLY popular....

    .....just like 3D.

    Oh wait............

  9. ThomH

    "For God's sake, somebody find a use for NFC!"

    Did anybody else find that shoehorning a little absurd?

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