The Matrix for a Tenner.

Neo: 'Am I dead?'
Morpheus: 'Far from it.'
- The Matrix.

No one knows what the 'Matrix' is, but basing on the film, the virtual world is in fact a pretty cool place to check and visit every once in a while. Minus Agent Smith of course. We may be a few years to have a VR world like the Matrix, but it'll be pretty cool to learn how to fly or kung fu in a few minutes in the comforts of your sofa.

The VR Headset war is currently bannered by the popular Oculus Rift wherein you could feel yourself immersed into a computer-generated world. If you are a big fan of first-person games, or amazed with 3D/4D entertainment technology, VR is waaay bigger than that.

The pricetag for the Oculus? Plays around $500. Pretty reasonable for such an advanced immersive tech gadget. But what if there is a way to experience VR for a pocket change?

Google Cardboard VR headset entered the VR wars with a very unique asset given in its name: cardboard. Yup, seriously. 

You are using CARDBOARD.

 If you ever purchased something from Amazon, think of that box with a few things attached to it like lenses, magnets and velcro straps and voila: instaVR.

I was skeptical at first having seen the review videos of VR gadgets. But then I joined the fold. (pun intended.)

It is easier to assemble than origami. I downloaded the Google cardboard app demo and I popped in my Samsung S4 in the now VR headset. I initially had difficulty fitting them in since I am wearing glasses, so I have to use without them. On the links, I have seen more models and shapes of the VR from Briztech's shop in https://vr.briztech.co.uk which could please us glass-wearers. That's the same with smartphones. Not all smartphones are created equal. I am not referring to Apple fanboys v Android wars, but the screen sizes are not the same. There are available headset models that fit larger screens than a regular-sized one.

For the demo app I used, you could see the menu and scroll through it by either looking to the left or the right with selections such as Tutorial, Tour guide, Exhibit, Windy Day, Earth, Videos, and Photosphere. The Tour Guide placed me in the Palace of Versailles, where I could feel like I am in the palace itself as I would feel in a museum. There was a voice-over tour guide as I 'walk-through' the rooms inside. I looked down and I was standing on shiny wooden parquets, above me was a ceiling full of fantastic paintings and massive chandeliers. 

I also liked the Videos, wherein it pulled my video files from the phone. I could see the video files 360 degrees around me, and I selected them as I 'point' my vision at them. To click and select an item, I pulled down the metal ring on the left side of the headset.

Check and get your headset here -> Briztech Google Cardboard VR Headset

Apart from games, here are some of my ideas for the vast use and potential of this VR Headset:

1. Educational purposes. 
 Imagine having a headset per student and 'send' them to a 'virtual museum.' Yes ideally the museum experience is still a priceless must-do, must-see. But realistically and economically, with just an app and a cheap device the wonders start and all happens in a class room. 

2. Fitness/training video.
 Ok this would sound really beyond the depths of actual training, but if Neo can learn Kung-fu, why can't we?

3. Video streaming
 It can make you feel seated in front of a big-screened cinema. No need to buy a 278" tv. Just pop it in, sit on the sofa, prop your legs up and munch your snack away. No noisy banters by kids in the front, no sticky floors from spilled-drinks. Even Netflix can pick up on these ideas. 

4. Virtual Travel
 Travel services or tourist agencies can provide tourists and hardcore travellers give more than just a glimpse of the travel destinations. Yesterday: photos and brochures and videos; tomorrow: VR-based ads!

5. Advertisers
 Pop-up Ads could be annoying, and seeing them on youtube videos make you make 'Skip the ad' in less than 5 seconds. But, they're there for a reason. But what if ads were clever and cooler in VR? Let's see if skipping is still an option in the future.

Google Cardboard's tagline: Experience virtual reality in a simple, fun. and affordable way.
Check, check and major check. The potential for this device is endless. Be it for the regular mass consumer for entertainment or games, or for the developers.


notes: Google Cardboard VR Headset images from here.

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