For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of virtual reality, here’s a brief definition courtesy of Wikipedia:
Virtual Reality (VR), which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated life, replicates an environment that simulates physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds and lets the user interact in that world.
Cyber Zone – Hosted by Craig Charles
Virtual reality has forever been an industry stuck in a state of infancy despite having an early start in the 1990s as a hit TV game show allegedly (but also allegedly by a cluster of PCs) powered by the Commodore Amiga 3000 called “Cyber Zone” hosted by Craig Charles.
But Google Cardboard is appearing to take the market by storm.
Since then virtual reality appeared to be put on the back burner by popular mainstream media and the technology industry and the concept sadly seemed to fizzle out of existence until a small upstart company called Oculus VR developed a virtual reality headset for the PC gaming market which relighted the fire and demand for immersive gaming the likes which haven’t been seen forever a decade. Enter the modern world…
Now virtual reality is a buzz word again thanks to major players in the entertainment industry realising that demand is definitely overwhelmingly greater than the supply and that consumers finally have caught up with the concept of entering the reality of the games, videos or even internet based content (we’ll get to that shortly) we finally have a market which is about to gain critical mass and become a feasting ground for those wanting to finally have the dream of their 1990s youth (me anyway) available to purchase and experience for themselves.
Since the (yet to be officially released) Oculus Rift there have bene a multitude of players entering the market scrambling fora share of the virtual reality pie.
Sony have their offering in the form of Project Morpheus and Microsoft also have their own offering in the form of the Microsoft HoloLens coined as the first “fully untethered, holographic computer, enabling high definition holograms to integrate with your world”.
Google decided to approach the world of virtual reality in a different way. Their vision is to allow users to experience a virtual world without having to purchase any additional hardware and “Experience virtual reality in a fun, and affordable way”. The concept is this:
Simply purchase a Google Cardboard viewer (cardboard by name and cardboard by nature) headset and experience the luxury of VR content for a fraction of the price due to the fact that the major component of the setup is the smartphone the user already has in their possession.
Simply assemble their cardboard case around your Android or iOS (Apple fanboys myself included) device and you are well equipped to begin experiencing fully immersive virtual reality content for a fraction of the price which the major players such as Sony , Microsoft or Oculus VR are asking.
What’s the catch you may ask? Simply the Google Cardboard system is limited thus far to being driven from the device within the cardboard enclosure to begin with. The capabilities of such devices is limiting in this respect and you can’t simply play PC calibre games such as Elite Dangerous or Alien Isolation using one of these devices. However, for the cost of a few cups of coffee in the local coffee house, you can experience Google Street View in virtual reality as well as a plethora of apps which have been created solely for experiencing on this affordable, ingenious bit of hard (card) ware.