Google Cardboard brings virtual reality and pizza to the masses

Google caused quite a stir earlier this week when it announced its build-your-own virtual reality headset made of cardboard. Simply assemble the viewer using magnets, lenses, Velcro, cardboard and a rubber band and insert your smartphone as the screen that makes the magic happen.

Just a few days after Cardboard’s release, many people have already tried out the method and experienced VR in the comfort of their own homes.

However, Google Cardboard is not the first attempt to make VR accessible to a wider audience. Altergaze, a 3D printed VR headset, generated buzz through its Kickstarter campaign earlier this year.

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Though 3D printing makes the Altergaze headset much more affordable than high tech PC-based systems such as Oculus Rift, Google’s use of cardboard offers a whole new level of cheap.

Now that devices such as Altergaze and Cardboard are bringing VR technology to the masses, what can we do with it? How will the new availability of VR change our everyday lives?

Novelty factor aside (virtual reality in a pizza box!), Cardboard and other affordable VR headsets have many practical applications. Gaming is perhaps the most obvious use, as they have already been developed in conjunction with video game systems to fully immerse players in fictional worlds.

Beyond games, Altergaze creator Liviu B Antoni sees a whole new frontier of uses for accessible virtual reality viewers.

“360 degree films, immersive panoramic images from your holiday, virtual reality social networking, architectural presentations, VR experiences for public spaces like museums or social events are just a few examples of what the wireless and affordable VR headset has to offer outside the games industry,” he says on Altergaze’s Kickstarter page.

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Indeed, the use of VR in films, theatre, and other areas of the entertainment industry will be transformative.

Going to a cinema could become completely unnecessary as a film experienced in virtual reality would be the same on a home headset. Attending a theatrical performance could simply entail putting on VR goggles to watch the production as if you are actually sitting in the first row.

Not to mention the educational and medical applications that will arise from more frequent use of virtual reality. Children could study the cultures of other countries by exploring cities through a VR viewer.

Medical students could practice surgeries and gain experience before they ever operate on a real person. Doctors and patients could see the human body on a cellular level to decide proper treatments.

These various uses are just a starting point. The number of ways we integrate this technology into our lives will only continue to grow as more and more people order a pizza, fold up the box and realise the potential of virtual reality.


Featured image and first body image courtsey of Google, second body image courtesy of Altergaze.


Retail future: virtual reality set to dominate tomorrow’s shops

A visit to the shops in the future could see us visiting stores where we can browse the shelves in virtual reality before we part with our hard-earned money.

That’s the view of one leading retail expert, Philippe Loeb, from Dassault Systèmes, which provides CAD software and design systems.

The company has developed a virtual reality shelving system that can help manufacturers see the products that they are developing on a virtual shelf.

But there is no reason the technology can’t be expanded to benefit customers as well, Loeb said.

Loeb, the vice-president of consumer package goods and retail industry, told Factor that the internet of things will change how we shop, as well as how products are presented to us.

He said: “I believe that the future of the shopping experience is still going to be physical places which are probably going to be delightfully branded, it becomes and experience more than a warehouse.

“Using virtual reality, augmented reality, connected objects and why not 3D printing as a better way to engage with the shopper.

“They will probably need less space to better show more products, which is good news for them.”

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However, it will take some time for us shoppers to adapt to new shopping experiences, Loeb said.

While it is already possible for our phones and tablets to push deals and promotions to us based on our location, he said this has to be refined in shops as nobody would want to receive tons of notifications as they walked through a shop.

He explained: “For the consumer it is going to be about probably two key elements. One is making them more comfortable on their choice. Choice can be choice for value, choice for you health, choice for somebody because sometimes the shopper is not the consumer.

“The second one – we hope – is going to be more productivity.”

Loeb said that the car manufacturers are ahead of the curve compared to supermarkets and other large shops when it comes to implementing smart technologies into retail space  – this is in part due to the wide acceptance of technology in cars.

He said: “The companies which are the most advanced are the automobile companies where more and more a part of the driving experience are devices, screens all kinds of interaction with something that is smart, and there is no way today to image a car without thinking of the internet of things part of the car.”

The change in shopping experiences has already started with car manufacturer Audi creating a digital showroom in the central of London, UK.

The compact showroom allows potential customers to view Audi’s cars in a virtual space while in the centre of London.


Featured image and image one courtesy of  Dassault Systèmes