Google builds its own VR headset — out of cardboard

Now that Facebook has bought OculusVR for $2 billion dollars, the pressure is on Google to do something in this space.

This week, Google has released its own headset — and it’s made of cardboard.

(Image courtesy Google.)

(Image courtesy Google.)


Cnet calls Google Cardboard “perhapsĀ one of the most important, quirky, and ingenious advances in consumer VR since the Rift itself.”

You can download the instructions and make one yourself — say, from an empty pizza box — and scrounge around for magnets and lenses. Or order the kit for $25 from DODOcase.

Google has already released an experimental VR Toolkit so that Android developers can build 3D applications for Google Cardboard and other Android-based VR headsets.

The Google Maps app on Android has also been updated, with a new side-by-side view that can be used with any virtual reality smartphone adapter — except that the images aren’t pre-warped, so may look odd through the VR headsets’ lenses. Read more about it at Road to VR.

Watch the Google Cardboard presentation below.

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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

9 Responses

  1.' Connie says:

    is this for real cuz it really looks more like a late april fools joke. In fact i do believe Google cardboard was Google’s joke for this year.

    •' Paul says:

      The cardboard would just be a holding frame to keep the lenses and phone stable. So the physical design should work. As for the software, the device just had to render two slightly different perspectives of the scene which is not hard to do. Also, it just needs to compensate for the distortion of the lenses, which again is not hard to do.

      The main problem is that it does take a fair amount of processing power to render 3d scenes (that is why computers have dedicated graphics cards to give them that power). Modern mobile phone, if the 3D scene is not too complex are powerful enough to render two views at the same time.

      So, I would say that this is not an April fools joke, or that if it is, then the joke would be on google as someone would end up making it for real as the technology is now capable of doing this

      A few years ago, phones were not capable of rendering the 2 views fast enough for it to be effective, but today they certainly are. This is certainly a good reason for me to update my phone to one capable of running the software. šŸ˜€

    • Nope, it’s for real! The cardboard part of it just a cute, promotional thing. There are actually a number of plastic cases that do the same thing already out on the market — Durovis Dive, vrAse, Vrizzmo, VReye Go, Yay3D’s VR Viewer, Refugio3D, More info here:

      The main point of this announcement is actually the developer kit that Google is providing to create these applications.

      The video goes into quite a bit more detail on the developer side.

      There are also two innovative parts here. One is the magnet on the side, which, in effect, creates an easy-to-use button. So you might look at something to select it, then push the button to click on it. Since you can’t touch the screen to select something, because the cell phone screen is inside the case.

      The other is the NFC chip — NFC stands for near field communications, and it’s basically a tiny little radio chip that tells the phone that it’s inside a VR case and should switch to VR mode.

      If Google’s VR toolkit catches on, I expect both of these to show up in other VR headsets in the near future, especially since Google is open sourcing everything.

  2. Check out this community on Google Plus — nearly 2,000 developers, plus folks from Google itself, discussing Cardboard:

  3.' Bryan French says:

    Ooooo the 19th Century Stereopticon is back with an updated 21st century look. I think I’ll save my money on this VR fad, ROTFL

  4.' Sachin Agarwal says:

    I want to try Shadowgun VR, but it requires a bluetooth controller and my hands are already full with google cardboard. i bought it last week from .

  5.' chintan shah says:

    I can’t believe that google can come up with such an amazing product. I was stunned looking at the dimensions at

  6.' Chelsea Shaffer says:

    I’ve realized not everyone has a reliable vendor for premades or kits to build their virtual reality, so I’ll share the service I go through. If any of you are still looking for a reliable service with affordable prices, check out

  7. The direct link to the product page is here:

    However, it looks like the ElecFreaks product doesn’t have the NFC chip, so it won’t know when to switch to VR mode. Plus, the site has major typos throughout, which worries me. AND the comment above is from ElecFreaks itself — but it starts out with “I ordered….” I don’t mind running comments from companies who want to tells us about relevant products, but I would prefer it if they were direct about it. Like, “We’re selling a similar kit, at a lower price. Here’s the link:”