Tag Archives: Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard – which one to buy?

Google Cardboard first came on the scene in 2014, but didn’t gain much traction until the following year.  In November 2015, I saw that The New York Times was including a Google Cardboard viewer with all home newspaper deliveries and really hoped a British newspaper might offer something similar. That didn’t happen, so a couple of weeks ago I gave in and bought my own. I was surprised to see how inexpensive it is, but then, it is only cardboard :)

I was pretty astonished by it. Not only can you get an incredible virtual reality experience with a simple cardboard box and a smartphone, but it’s also really easy to make your own VR movies too – just install the Google Cardboard Camera app and start filming. We experimented with making a movie of my sitting room then traversed the real space whilst also experiencing it in VR. Strange but fun.

‘American Bison’, NYTVR

We also flicked through a lot of the sample movies that come with the numerous VR apps. The Google cardboard app itself contains some, and you can find many more on YouTube. I was keen to see the New York Times app which features, among other things, the chance to walk through a herd of powerful American Bison, some of whom seem to advance right up and peer into your face. You can almost smell them. (But you can’t, not yet, VR hasn’t figured out how to do odour.)


To make life a little easier, I put my old Samsung Galaxy S4 inside the viewer so I can keep my current phone free for everything else. The S4 is off the phone network but works fine with wifi, which is all you need.

Which Google Cardboard should you buy?

My main problem when ordering a Google Cardboard was knowing which one to purchase. There are lots of different types but they all look much the same. I’d read that you should buy one with a strap, but in the end I got so confused that I chose one without. However, we found that for the most part we didn’t need it. We just held up the box to our eyes as we stumbled around oohing and ahhing at the amazing effects. You’d probably need a strap for watching longer viewing periods though.

I was also concerned about getting the right one to fit the size of my phone. Until you’ve actually held a Cardboard in your hands it’s quite hard to grasp how it actually works, but once you have it you’ll know right away if it fits or if you have to start over. Fortunately I had chosen right and it fitted fine.

At an average price either side of £12 or so, Google Cardboard is so cheap you will spend more money taking the family to the movies than you will creating your own virtual reality classic. To help you choose one, here are some of the best-sellers. Check out the comments on each page too because they contain useful information such as how to put the thing together (much easier than you might imagine.) This is the one I got. It’s by far the most popular, but you need to buy the strap separately.

Checking out the reality of virtual reality – Zuckerberg says that VR will “change the way we live and work and communicate.”

Yesterday, in Barcelona at the launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy S7, Mark Zuckerberg told the audience that virtual reality is “going to change the way we live and work and communicate.” As a result, the BBC has jumped into hyperspace today. This morning the stern John Humphrys had a vertiginous experience with a headset at a Kasabian concert, and Technology Editor Matthew Wall wrote a wide-ranging overview “Can technology help us improve upon reality?” .

Google Cardboard

A couple of weeks ago I began my own lo-tech experiment with VR when I treated myself to a Google Cardboard kit. I’ll be writing about it soon, but meanwhile if you already have Cardboard or GearVR check out this video about WildEyes, a VR project for kids based in American National Parks.

WildEyes Take a Virtual Field Trip

Last Child in the Woods

Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-deficit Disorder” was first published in 2005 but still receives a lot of attention from concerned parents and education professionals. Louv identified a syndrome he calls ‘nature-deficit disorder’ which implies that people, especially children, who have little access to the natural world can exhibit psychological damage. His work has been received with skepticism in some quarters, although it is often the driver behind activism related to digital detoxing and other ideas seen to be remedying the supposedly negative effects of technology. According to Wikipedia, Louv has said that “nature-deficit disorder is not meant to be a medical diagnosis but rather to serve as a description of the human costs of alienation from the natural world”.

In the decade since the book first came out, we have become gripped by our online lives in a way Louv probably didn’t – couldn’t have – anticipated. Concerns about alienation have grown with the evolution of a very digital-savvy generation and certainly there are issues here to be discussed. But there’s a problem, I think, to do with the appeal this kind of claim has to a hungry press media always looking for the next big panic.

“Last Child in the Woods” is an eloquent and moving read. I’d love to see an updated version that takes into account projects like the Digital Archaeology Weekend held in the New Forest in early 2016.  Hundreds of children and their families joined experts for a weekend of gaming and archaeology including laser mapping, Minecraft, Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.  There’s a lot of that kind of thing going on, and I’ll be reporting on it here.