Google is doing VR, but… are they?

I hate to be the guy that’s not in on the joke, but Google had a strange announcement coming out of their I/O conference today that’s just too surreal to be true.

Introducing Google Cardboard: the company’s first foray into the world of virtual reality.

Everything about this smacks of a headline on The Onion or an April Fool’s Day prank. Yet from what I can tell, it’s very real.


“You come because you get your hands on cool new gadgets, so we’re going to give you some,” Google’s Sundar Pachai told the crowd.  “We’re going to hand each and every one of you a Cardboard as you head out from the keynote.”

The idea behind the project was to make virtual reality cost effective so that everyone could access it (albeit, so long as they already own a smartphone). Users assemble the device themselves using little more than ordinary cardboard, some lenses, and a rubber band.

Placing your Android phone into Google Cardboard powers the unit with Cardboard-friendly apps — some of which are already live on Google Play. The Cardboard app will let you do things like take a guided tour of Versailles, do a Street View drive of Paris, and participate in an interactive animated short, Windy Day.


If you weren’t lucky enough to be in attendance at the Google I/O keynote (don’t worry, we weren’t either) they’ve posted up some handy instructions on how to build your own at home. Though like they say, getting the lenses will be the trickiest part.

On the one hand, a makeshift, budget alternative to the (already relatively budget-priced) Oculus Rift is a bold and brilliant move. On the other hand…

I mean, it’s cardboard. This has to be a joke, right?

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