Something that seemed like a distant dream few years ago is now a reality and the best part about it is that it is available at a very affordable price- Virtual reality. We have often heard about the popular culture of 20% time projects in Google- Orkut was one such project . It is again in news for Google cardboard project by Google’s Engineers in Paris.
In it most simple form, Android Cardboard is an arrangement where the user can view 3D videos in an immersive arrangement where user can have an enhanced experience of the video- often called virtual reality. Something that is virtual but seems very real. The arrangement consists of a hardware and a software part.
The hardware part of Android Cardboard as of now, in its simplest form is a basic cardboard cutout in the shape which has a window to view and space to keep the smartphone. It consists of two glass lenses through which one can view the videos. Each lens covers each eye. The video visible in each lens seem distorted when seen separately. But when seen in an immersive arrangement, this particular lag is what leads to a virtual reality experience.
There are some handful VR(Virtual Reality) apps and videos available which you can play/install in your android device. The software divides the screen into two parts- of the size of the lens of the cardboard.Keep the mobile on the cardboard and play the app. Wear the cardboard and you will find yourself experiencing the video and not just seeing it. Say for example if there is a video of roller coaster ride, you will find yourself tilting and shifting whenever the ride moves. It is especially funny for the observer, who sees you tilting here and there for no evident reason :)
The Google cardboard was released at Google I/O 2014 and in Google I/O 2015, saw an extension and more complete virtual reality experience termed as “Expeditions” where users can have virtual trips.
Now comes the best part about Google Cardboard- It is available at very affordable price. The complete kit can be bought as something as low as Rs 180/- to the premium ones at 350/- The kit consists of cardboard cut out that can be folded(in some cases, it comes preset), with biconvex lens lenses usually of 25 mm diameter and 45 mm focal length, 2 pieces of head straps for easy use and soft nose padding.
The best suited android phones are the ones with bigger screen size – 5 inches and above and good screen quality- HD is even better. The phones should have an android version 4.1 or above. The app is also available for iPhone6 and 6s. The premium quality kit has better quality cardboard and lenses which makes them cost a little higher. But still this is any day a fair price for the experience it provides.
Over coming years we are only going to see more and more of VR apps which will raise the bar of user experience of apps. This is just the beginning and a very good one at that!