If you are of a certain age, as a child you probably owned (or really wanted to own) a View-Master. Remember that chunky red plastic slide viewer with the circular slide disks that had all of your favorite cartoons? There were educational reels too that took you on a field trip of sorts. I had a ton of different disks but Seven Wonders of the World was my personal favorite. The View-Master’s 3D effects were really amazing, and you really felt like you were going on a journey. In some ways, the View-Master was the first virtual reality experience for many people.
Fast forward to 2016 where the technology behind virtual reality has advanced rapidly in the past couple of years. Right now, virtual reality is really taking off in the gaming world and several major companies including Facebook, Samsung, and PlayStation have developed virtual reality headsets. While these headsets are really cool, they are also pretty pricey, with the lower end Samsung Gear VR starting at $99.99.
If you want to experience virtual reality without breaking the bank, good news. You can do so with Google Cardboard. Simple, cheap, and good fun, Google Cardboard is a complete virtual reality platform that you can purchase for as little as $15 or even make yourself.
Cardboard works much like the View-Master but instead of using picture disks, it uses a smartphone. The phone is placed in a viewer at an optimal distance from the lenses and a 3D effect is created when the viewer is held up to your eyes. You can move your head around and the images will respond as if you’re in the same place as what is displayed on your screen. Plug in headphones and you can add 3D audio for a more immersive experience.
Cardboard works with both Android and Apple phones and there are numerous apps for games, videos, and more. You can get a taste of what Cardboard is capable of with the Cardboard app. This app comes with demos like Google Earth, where you can fly wherever you would like. You can also try Cardboard with YouTube and view popular videos on a seemingly massive screen.
Here’s one of the best things about Google Cardboard. Patchogue-Medford Library now offers Google Cardboard for a seven day loan. Check one out, take it home, and experience virtual reality for yourself! Visit the Adult Reference Desk to get for more information.