Google Cardboard is officially a hit, topping at 5 million units shipped at only 19 months after release. While Facebook’s Oculus and Microsoft’s HoloLens went about virtual reality with all guns ablaze, Google decided in favor a simpler viewer for virtual reality content.
And it seems to be working pretty well. According to Google, the company wasn’t expecting the Cardboard viewer – a mere experiment in the so-called immersive experiences – to gain such traction.
Google Cardboard wasn’t launched under the best auspices. The search giant is known to play the occasional April Fools prank, like the first one in 2000, when the search engine suggested it could read users’ minds. Some year later, Google told users that all emails will be delivered on old-fashioned paper via the post office.
The 2007 April Fools prank featured a plan to build “a broadband network using sewage pipes called TiSP,” or Toilet Internet Service Provider. So it’s not difficult to understand why users didn’t really believe the idea of a virtual reality headset built almost exclusively out of cardboard.
When Google announced its first dive in the space of virtual reality in June of 2014, a lot of people thought it was yet another Google gag. Dubbed Google Cardboard, the project turned out to be anything but a joke.
As of Jan. 27, 2016, Google has shipped 5 million Cardboard viewers. At the same time, the company’s reports say that the Cardboard apps have been downloaded over 25 million times from its Play Store, which means that the average users has tried five different VR experiences.
Surprisingly, people have really enjoyed Chair in a Room, a disturbing first-person horror game which ranked as the most popular app for the device. But you can experience a lot more with the Cardboard apps, such as rollercoaster simulators or field trips to popular global monuments.
At roughly $20, Cardboard may hold the award for “the lowest-tech gadget in the history of modern consumer electronics.” It’s made out of a little cardboard box, a couple pieces of Velcro, two magnets, two lenses and one rubber band.
Download the right apps, place the smartphone in the Cardboard, and enjoy the simple yet immersive experience of the virtual reality viewer. If you have yet to see a Google Cardboard unit in person, you will be surprised by how unimpressive it looks. But wait until you put it on.
Google does not sell Cardboard directly, but you can purchase it from numerous third-party developers and retailers like Amazon.
Image Source: Thurrott