Make a Virtual Reality Headset Using your Smartphone
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Make a Virtual Reality Headset Using your Smartphone

At first look you might think the Google cardboard idea is a joke, as I did.
I was reading up on the anticipated Oculus Rift Virtual reality headset when I came across this Google page introducing Cardboard, a do it yourself virtual reality setup for smartphones.

If you have a smartphone you can already start viewing virtual reality content.
  1. Install a VR App such as Google Cardboard on your Smartphone.
  2. Insert your phone into your Viewer, headgear such as Google Cardboard, and start viewing in Virtual reality.
  3. Use headphones for a more immersive experience.
There is an official Cardboard App, as well as many Apps, games and fun things to do, in the Marketplace (search for VR or Cardboard).

The magnet on the side is your one button, usually for starting an app and selecting something.

There are already many virtual places to visit. And you can create your own Virtual Reality Scenes with the Google Camera app.


How it works:
When you view Virtual Reality content on your smartphone the screen is split in two, giving each eye a different perspective, which gives the illusion of watching a scene in 3D. Even better if the scene was shot with two cameras positioned in a way to give an artificial 'eye perspective'. This is a new filming technique that will be important in the future as we get more VR viewers and games.

The game controls are usually very simple, as it is similar to having one joystick and one button. Hopefully there's a Bluetooth gamepad in the future that works with most VR content.

While waiting on the Steam VR or HTC Vive to make a perfect VR viewer and controls, so we don't even have to use our smartphones, I got me a pair of these

Soyan Leather Google Cardboard Viewer - Amazon $8.99

Another promising app, Trinus Gyre, currently available for Android and Amazon Kindle devices for about $5, lets you view and control your computer games in VR with your viewer. This opens up a world of possibilities.
The app is still in development, and you can try a test version for free.