Google Cardboard – My life in cardboard

You’ve probably heard of the Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headgear designed to immerse you in unimaginable experiences by taking over your sensory perception. But what if you’ve got £3 to spend rather than £300?

Enter Google Cardboard. Invented by a couple of Google developers during the famed Innovation Time Off (“20% time”), Google Cardboard was announced at Google’s I/O conference in June 2014.

The hardware bit (the cardboard!) is essentially just a set of open source plans. Google are saying, ‘this is how you make it, now go make it!’. However, simpler than actually getting out the Stanley knife and sticky back plastic, is just buy one for a few quid from the Internet.

Google Cardboard

You’ll need an Android smartphone to take advantage (although a few iPhone apps do exist). Download some of the apps, slot your phone into the cardboard and before you know it, you’re riding a roller coaster or being pursued by dinosaurs. The effectiveness and simplicity is really the genius here.

Indeed the Library’s own #digilab team helped wow at the recent Philanthropy Day using Google Cardboard alongside some of the pricier tech.

Obviously, it got me wondering what uses we could put Google Cardboard to here at the Library. One of the simplest things you can do is take a photosphere with your Android phone. For example:

which the Google Cardboard demo app will pick up and display under the photosphere option

Google Cardboard demo photosphere option

allowing you to then look, with barely suppressed wonder, around your scene:

Using Google Cardboard

Other ideas:
  • We could use it explore the redeveloped Library using imagery created by the architects for the Main Library Redevelopment Project
  • At open days and promotional events hosted elsewhere, we could have a VR narrated Library tour
  • Send a branded version of Google Cardboard to potential overseas students for a narrated look around Manchester
  • Take 3D images of some of the John Rylands Special Collection items which you could then view from all angles (see the Exhibit in the Google Cardboard demo for an example of this)
  • Use them for activities during the education and learning visits from local schools – a great idea from one Innovation Group member was to recreate 19th century scenes around the John Rylands Library which could then be viewed and compared with the current day

It’s an impressive bit of technology, and fun to play with too. If you have any ideas, add them in below.

I’ve created a Google cardboard how-to (1 page .pptx) which you can use to spread the word too.



7 thoughts on “Google Cardboard – My life in cardboard

  1. Ciaran! I am totally on board with this, as you know.

    I will say though that the cardboard can get a bit icky if being used by numerous people, so it’s probably best to invest in the slightly more expensive plastic versions…

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