Google’s DIY Cardboard-and-Smartphone Virtual Reality Headset

Google (GOOG)gave a gift to everyone who came to its developers conference this week: a kit to make a virtual reality headset out of folded cardboard and an Android smartphone. Virtual reality has lurched through several hype cycles over the past few decades, and we are smack in the middle of the latest one, inspired by Oculus VR, the headset maker that Facebook (FB)bought for $2 billion in March.

Oculus’s promise is similar to the high-end vision for virtual reality that has existed for years: You use technology to transport yourself convincingly to another world. In the past, the headsets have been too expensive and not convincing enough to catch on. Plus, they gave a lot of people headaches. Oculus uses new technology that addresses many of these problems. The underlying idea, though, is the same, Virtual reality is kind of the antithesis of the smartphone: One you carry around the world, the other you sit with on your couch and let a different world come to you.

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