A virtual reality headset under 25 cents

Is the $4 price tag of a Google Cardboard on Amazon too much for your budget?

Don’t have the lenses and pizza box needed to make your own from scratch?

Try the TinVR kit, which turns an empty soda or beer can and some felt into a virtual reality headset that not only runs all Google Cardboard apps, but is fully compatible with Google Cardboard v2 — since it doesn’t block access to the smartphone screen.

Brian Ornstedt of TinVR.

Brian Ornstedt of TinVR at the Boston VR Meetup.

I got a chance to try one on at the Boston VR meetup this evening and it actually works. You actually look through two pinholes while you hold your smartphone a few inches in front of your face.

I tried out my favorite virtual roller coaster app, and it worked great.

Brian Ornstedt of TinVR.

Brian Ornstedt of TinVR.

It’s no Oculus Rift. But it’s a step up from just starting at your phone with your eyes crossed trying to get the 3D effect to kick in.

Instructions and templates are available for free online, and the company also plans to sell do-it-yourself kits.

TinVR is a Boston-based startup that actually launched today.

Brian Ornstedt

Brian Ornstedt

“We want as many people to have access to virtual reality as possible,” said Brian Ornstedt, president of TinVR. “We’re giving them the tools and the design to be able to do that.”

The company has also submitted an app to the Apple App Store, a simple 3D photo capture sharing and viewing app.

“It should be available next week,” Ornstedt said. An Android version of the app will be available later, he added.

Depending on where the materials are bought, it should cost between 15 and 20 cents to make each headset, if you can get the cans for free.


Related Posts


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.

5 Responses

  1. lawrence_pierce@sbcglobal.net' lmpierce says:

    Great! Now we just need a 25 cent smartphone with service for 25 cents a month!

  2. I was thinking more about this on my drive home from the event last night, and it occurs to me that the main working element there are the two pinholes. So any piece of material that you can poke pinholes through should work for this.

    You need to measure your inter-pupillary distance — instructions here: http://doc-ok.org/?p=898

    I just made one out of a piece of cardboard, and it worked. Not great, though — with cardboard, it’s hard to get a clean edge on the pinholes, so it makes the image a wee bit fuzzy.

    But basically, you need something shaped roughly like this, with the pinholes adjusted for your eyes:


    A piece of opaque plastic would probably work ok.

  3. rt66@wanadoo.fr' Yichard says:

    Are you serious? For the price it could at least hold the phone in place, so that we can type commands… of well, even with the phone held in front of our eyes, how to type keys? or what serves this purpose on a cell phone.

    Having a cheap headset, not tiring to wear, with a good quality, is still a matter of development to be done. The most advanced today are microsoft, although their system is not intended for full immersion.

    • I think you’re missing the point here. The idea is to enable you to watch 3D videos and go on 3D tours with your smartphone without having to spend money on a headset, just to try it out.

      None of these applications usually require typing — although if you did want to use the on-screen keyboard, you can, because the phone isn’t blocked by a headset. Most other smartphone-based HMD’s lock the phone away inside the case, so that you can’t easily reach it

      You can buy one of those headsets from one of these manufacturers: http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2015/05/where-to-get-new-google-cardboard-cases/

    • draco@spamcop.net' Rene says:

      The word VR get over-broadened. Yichard, these simper devices are meant for passive stereo viewing, usually to watch 3D movies. Some use Omni-vision recordings so that you can turn your head and see beyond just the limited forward view, the phone’s internal rotation tracking is good enough to make that work reasonably well. Even that small amount of interaction generates a rich and compelling experience, limited to some degree by the pixel density of the phone’s display resolution.