For the longest time, I was pretty skeptical of virtual reality. Even after trying out a friend's DK2 Oculus, sure, the graphical fidelity was fantastic, but I give no two hoots about graphics. Besides, input feels weird when you can't see your controller, the Oculus costs as much as a regular game console, and I wouldn't trust Facebook with the time of day. So, I really couldn't see VR becoming much beyond a niche gaming thing.
Then I tried a Google Cardboard.
Oh dear lord, this goofy-looking marvel of dead-tree engineering. It's beautiful. And with its elegant design, invoking child-like wonder but not child-like skill, it solves so many issues:
- It avoids the Google Glass problem, in that it's impossible to look like a smug asshole in it. It's a freaking cardboard box on your face.
- It's only $15 for a not-bad VR experience! This makes it actually viable for mainstream, widespread use.
- The design is open-source, and it works with the open web. Definitely not the kind of closed, crappy developer-unfriendly platforms Facebook is known for.
- The "click" input for Google Cardboard is right on its side, where your hands would be holding it up anyway. I suspect they made the input on the left side to keep your wank-hand free, when VR porn becomes big.
- There's even a hole at the front, to allow the possibility of augmented reality/hand tracking.
And best of all, it's super easy to just hand it to a friend to try out a taste of VR. It's just so cute and simple and non-threatening, compared to the Oculus. Everyone loves the Windy Day demo, too. (and I'll be writing more on that in a later post)
Only two things could make this thing better:
- Some origami expert finds out how to make a Cardboard that transforms from a phone case to VR device.
- They call it the Oculus Thrift.