Google cardboard is a simple, low-tech, virtual reality system. The concept is simple, why buy technology you already have? By using your smartphone, you don’t have to go out and buy expensive hardware a second time around, meaning that the only thing left to do was keep the phone near to your eyes. Google cardboard does just that and now you can even get it through the Google store.
In a unique twist, Google has so far only sold the Cardboard through third parties, meaning that in order to grab the device (does it even count as a device if it’s just cardboard?) you had to find someone else online selling it. This has now changed with Google launching an entire VR section on their website, including the Cardboard for a low price. Costing only $15 for a single unit, or if you wanted to double up it would only cost you $25. At this moment in time, the Cardboard has sold out meaning that you may have to wait a little before enjoying the benefits of low-cost virtual reality.
With virtual reality and even augmented reality solutions being released this year, experiencing the world of VR before you pay out hundreds of pounds may be a good idea. So far the Cardboard has made a large impact, with Doctors even using it to save lives. What do you think? Is it worth buying to mount a phone to your head or is it the start of your journey with VR technology?
It is mostly the Oculus Rift and the Sony’s Playstation VR that take the headlines these days, but that doesn’t mean that simpler tools such as the Google Cardboard can’t be useful. In this case it was extremely useful as it helped to plan an operation virtually first and quite possibly have saved a baby’s life at the same time.
Teegan Lexcen was born with a unique defect that the doctors hadn’t seen before. Most of the left half of her heart was missing and on top of that she only has one lung. The parents were originally told by their doctors that nothing could be done. The poor girl was sent to a hospice to have the best care in the little time she had left. But two weeks later, Teegan was still alive. At this point her parents started to look for alternatives and found Redmond Burke, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. Burke’s idea, along with a team of heart surgeons, was to 3D print a model of Teegan’s heart and go from there. But to make bad news worse, the 3D printer was broken and due to Teegan’s dangerous condition, something had to be done fast.
The doctors then turned to virtual reality in order to get a 3D image of the child’s chest region and organs. Doctors downloaded 3D images of the heart to an iPhone using the app Sketchfab. The images were similar to the 3D models that the doctors had on their computers, but the Google Cardboard used made it easier to accurately view every angle of the heart’s structure.
There were two major difficulties with this surgery, besides the extra risk that there always is with patients this young. First, the heart was placed further to the left of the chest than normal. That would normally require a very big incision which is a “massive trauma to a baby, it’s just horrendous,” Burke told CNN. Thanks to the Google Cardboard, Burke was able to visualize the precise location and use a much smaller and simpler midline incision.
The second challenge was a missing ventricle. Normally we have two, one that supplies the blood to the lungs while the other takes care of the rest. This was a tricky one in all conditions, but again the Google Cardboard helped Burke come up with a completely new procedure and solution for the problem. He rerouted Teegan’s right ventricle so it could continue to pump blood to both her lungs and body. He did this after having spent hours examining the 3D image of Teegan’s heart in Google Cardboard before pulling off the procedure with no complications.
This is a perfect example of why I love technology. When it is used for good and to help. In this case it was something as simple and cheap as a Google Cardboard (together with a lesser cheap iPhone) that helped do what an expensive 3D printer failed at. I wish little Teegan and her entire family all the best, may they all have a blessed life together.
Google has made the technical specification of its latest cardboard, virtual reality headset publicly available which now supports 6-inch mobile devices. The cardboard headset ecosystem is extremely intriguing due to the low cost, and allows customers to instantly test the latest prototypes without waiting for retail versions to appear. As a result, the cardboard VR project already has an active development scene and developers are eagerly awaiting the V2 specifications to optimize new code for the device.
The full specification containing technical drawings can be downloaded here but it is quite detailed and crammed full of information. Virtual Reality is touted as the future of gaming and has great potential for other real-world scenarios. I was quite sceptical of the cardboard VR headset but grown to really see its appeal and realize how easily the unit could be mass produced. People with technical skills can now access the documentation and provide feedback about the design. This should allow for widespread press coverage through professional outlets, forums and YouTube videos.
Currently, cost is a major issue when it comes to VR and the majority of headsets retail in excess of £200. Also, there’s nothing better than creating a piece of technology from scratch, using your own hands.
Have you picked up a VR headset yet?
Thank you Venturebeat for providing us with this information.
The VR hype train is showing no signs of slowing down, with Oculus VR and a few others already working hard to push premium grade VR hardware down to the consumer level. If you want your VR fix right now, you can either settle for Oculus development kit hardware, or you can take a dive into the world of mobile VR.
We already have Google Cardboard and there is work being done on the Samsung Gear VR, but now we have a third option. Clearly inspired by the Google Cardboard idea, the new hardware from Carl Zeiss offers a less flimsy alternative, with a high quality housing that’s got more in common with the Oculus Rift in terms of design, but comes with a smart phone dock and high quality lenses pre-installed like that of the Gear VR.
Using your smart phone as the display makes the VR One from Carl Zeiss very easy to set up. The headset will set you back just $99 and then an additional $9.90 for a new drawer for your specific smart phone. The headset is compatible with any smart phone between 4.7″ and 5.2″ and is already available for pre-order.
Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.