Google Cardboard is the perfect geek toy – offering an easy entrance to the world of virtual reality. Material cost is low, all you need are pieces of cardboard, two lens, magnets, and velcro strips. The other materials such as rubber band and NFC tag are optional. If you are interested to DIY, the lens are probably the most tricky components and y ou should look for around 45mm focal distance biconvex lens. Finding the individual parts can be a hassle and I have no idea where to pick up the necessary lens in Singapore either. Shopping online turned out to be a much more pleasant option and I got my Cardboard kit from Gearbest, which from my research, seems to be one of the cheapest place selling the Cardboard kit at US$5.99.
You can buy it from Gearbest using Promo code: GBCARDS. This brings the price down to US$5.99. Shipping is free.
Shipping speed from Gearbest was also relatively fast. The kit from Gearbest contains the cardboard, 1 x Rubber band, 2 x Magnets ( d=2cm ), 2 x Lens ( d=2.3cm ) and 4 x Velcro. The only difference from the Google kit is the NFC chip, which if you have your own, you can program it to the URL cardboard://v1.0.0, which will launch the default Google cardboard app.
The cardboard is pre-cut and tears off easily from the packaging to fold into the Cardboard VR. Folding instructions are straightforward and you can refer to the Google instructions or Gearbest also have a Youtube video on it. It can easily be done in minutes and you would have a simple and inexpensive DIY virtual reality glasses that are compatible with a number of VR apps. The magnet at the side works well, and it is intuitive though support is limited to what the programmers set.
In terms of phone compatiblity, I tested it with the Find 7, HTC One E8 and the LG G Pro 2. The HTC One E8 worked perfectly, even the magnetic input. The Find 7 worked well however, the position of the power button meant it kept triggering the power menu. You may have to cut a hole in the cardboard for the power button. The LG G Pro 2 was way too big and couldn’t fit.
The Cardboard is also compatible with apps for the Durovis Dive so the apps like the Dive Rollercoaster, Bubblecars etc all work well. I had a blast with Tuscany Drive, walking around the VR world and hearing the ambient noises. Yes, VR is still very much early technology and the Cardboard is really just a toy, but at less than US$6, it makes for great entertainment. Furthermore, it is a fun introduction to the world of virtual reality, yet at a fraction of the cost an Occulus Rift Gaming Headset would cost you.
Cardboard is not just limited to Android. With Trinus Gyre, it links your Android device to your Windows-based games that uses a mouse look feature. Trinus Gyre can emulate a few different control mechanisms to translate head movements into game world actions and transmit the display via wireless or USB streaming. It’s not cheap though but you can get a free trial first to experience it.
Here are some more apps for you to test out: