Google I/O didn’t bring us the big Glass retail news that some of us have been hoping for, but it still managed to address wearables in its own way – mostly through all the Android Wear news we got to hear. “But I’m more interested in head-mounted displays,” you insist. Well, even if the absence of Glass news, Google still has some progress to share along that line, introducing Google Cardboard.
Cardboard is basically a DIY virtual reality headset that uses your smartphone for its display – so really, all it needs to do is isolate the light path from each half of your phone’s screen so that only one of your eyes can see each half at once, throw in some optics so it’s comfortable to use, and you’ve got a quick-and-dirty VR headset.
Google has released plans for how to build Cardboard yourself (ideally out of – you guessed it – cardboard), and really the only tricky part sounds like getting your hands on suitable lenses. Once built, you can slide in your phone and start enjoying some of the few Cardboard-enhanced apps Google’s already made available – stuff like Earth, YouTube, and Photo Sphere.
The release of an experiential Cardboard SDK will also get devs started at preparing their own apps to take advantage of this penny-pincher VR setup.