Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard affordable VR Headset for University Students

Google Cardboard is a remarkably simple yet effective tool for introducing virtual reality (VR) in university settings. Here’s why it’s ideal for universities, how it works, its applications for students, the type of content it supports, and an explanation of its nature as both a “gimmick” and an effective educational tool. How Google Cardboard Works:…

Google Cardboard is a remarkably simple yet effective tool for introducing virtual reality (VR) in university settings. Here’s why it’s ideal for universities, how it works, its applications for students, the type of content it supports, and an explanation of its nature as both a “gimmick” and an effective educational tool.

How Google Cardboard Works:

  1. Simple Design: Made from cardboard, it includes lenses, a slot for a smartphone, and an input method (like a magnet or button).
  2. Smartphone Integration: Users slide their smartphone into the front of the Cardboard, and the phone’s screen serves as the display.
  3. Lens Function: The lenses in the Cardboard split the phone’s screen into two images, creating a stereoscopic (3D) effect when viewed through the lenses.

Student Use in Universities:

  1. Accessibility: Due to its low cost, universities can easily provide or encourage students to obtain their own Cardboard viewers.
  2. Educational Apps and VR Content: Students can access a variety of educational content, including 360° videos and interactive learning apps.
  3. DIY Aspect: The do-it-yourself nature of Google Cardboard can be part of a hands-on learning experience, particularly in design, technology, and engineering courses.

Basic Content Types:

  1. 360° Videos: These are the most common and accessible types of content for Cardboard, offering immersive experiences.
  2. Basic VR Applications: Educational apps in fields like biology, astronomy, and history can provide interactive learning experiences.
  3. Virtual Tours: Students can take virtual field trips to museums, historical sites, and even explore outer space.

Why It’s Ideal for Universities:

  1. Low Cost: Its affordability makes it accessible for large numbers of students and for schools with limited budgets.
  2. Ease of Use: Its simplicity ensures that it’s user-friendly, requiring minimal technical expertise.
  3. Educational Engagement: Provides an immersive learning experience, which can enhance understanding and engagement in various subjects.

The Gimmick vs. Effectiveness Aspect:

  1. “Gimmick” Nature: Google Cardboard is often seen as a novelty due to its basic design and limitations compared to advanced VR headsets.
  2. Effectiveness for 360° Videos: Despite its simplicity, Cardboard is surprisingly effective at delivering immersive 360° video experiences. These videos can transport students to different environments and contexts, which is invaluable for subjects that benefit from visual and experiential learning.
  3. Introduction to VR: It serves as an introductory platform to VR, sparking interest and potentially leading to more advanced exploration in the field.

Google Cardboard, while limited in capabilities and sometimes viewed as a gimmick, holds significant value in educational contexts, particularly in universities. Its affordability, ease of use, and effectiveness in delivering certain types of content, like 360° videos, make it an ideal tool for enhancing learning experiences. It provides a practical way to introduce students to VR technology, encourage interactive learning, and explore a wide range of virtual experiences.

google cardboard university students

Google Cardboard’s potential as an effective educational tool is particularly notable in universities in Africa and other underdeveloped regions, where resources might be limited.

Here’s why it can be especially beneficial in these contexts:

  1. Affordability: In regions where educational budgets are tight, the low cost of Google Cardboard is a significant advantage. It allows for the implementation of VR technology without the heavy investment required for more advanced systems.
  2. Accessibility: Since Google Cardboard primarily uses smartphones to deliver VR experiences, it leverages technology that students in these regions might already own or have easier access to, as opposed to requiring expensive computers or specialized VR equipment.
  3. Ease of Deployment: Its simplicity means that Google Cardboard can be easily introduced into educational settings. It doesn’t require extensive technical knowledge to set up or use, making it suitable for regions where such expertise might be scarce.
  4. Educational Impact: In areas where practical, on-site learning opportunities might be limited, VR can offer an invaluable resource. Through 360° videos and interactive apps, students can virtually explore places, phenomena, and concepts that would otherwise be inaccessible, enhancing their learning experience and understanding.
  5. Inspiring Technological Interest: Introducing VR in these contexts can also spark interest in technology and innovation among students. This exposure can be a stepping stone to more advanced technological education and application.
  6. Reducing Geographic Barriers: VR can help bridge the educational gaps caused by geographical barriers. Students in remote or rural areas can have virtual experiences that would otherwise require travel to urban centers or other countries.
  7. Cultural and Global Exposure: Google Cardboard can provide students with a window to different cultures and global contexts, broadening their perspectives and understanding of the world beyond their immediate environment.
  8. Customizable Content: Universities can develop or tailor VR content specific to their educational needs and cultural contexts, making the learning experience more relevant and impactful.
  9. Potential for Scalability: Once successfully implemented, the use of Google Cardboard can be scaled up to benefit more students and institutions, fostering a wider adoption of VR in education across these regions.

Google Cardboard presents a uniquely accessible opportunity for universities in Africa and underdeveloped countries to incorporate VR into their curriculum. It offers a cost-effective, scalable, and impactful tool for enhancing education, overcoming geographical limitations, and providing students with broader learning experiences.

Creating your own DIY version of a cardboard virtual reality (VR) viewer is a fun and educational project.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to making one:

Materials Needed:

  1. Cardboard: Thick, corrugated cardboard is ideal.
  2. Lenses: Biconvex lenses with a focal length of about 45mm. These can be sourced online or from some hardware stores.
  3. Magnets: One neodymium ring magnet and one ceramic disk magnet.
  4. Velcro: To create a secure closure for your phone.
  5. Rubber Band: To keep your phone from sliding out.
  6. NFC Tag (optional): For automatically launching your VR app.
  7. Craft Knife and Glue.


  1. Download and Print the Template:
    • Google provides a free template for Cardboard. Download and print it out.
  2. Cut the Cardboard:
    • Place the template on your cardboard.
    • Use a craft knife to cut out the Cardboard shape following the template lines.
  3. Fold and Glue:
    • Fold the cardboard along the lines indicated in the template.
    • Glue the flaps where necessary to hold the shape.
  4. Install the Lenses:
    • Insert the biconvex lenses in the two eye slots.
    • Make sure the curved sides face outward.
  5. Add the Magnets:
    • Place the neodymium magnet inside the box on the side.
    • Attach the ceramic magnet on the outside of the box to hold the neodymium magnet in place. These will act as your input button.
  6. Add Velcro and Rubber Band:
    • Attach Velcro to the flap where your phone will sit to secure it.
    • Place a rubber band around the entire box to further secure the phone.
  7. Attach the NFC Tag (Optional):
    • Stick the NFC tag inside the Cardboard if you want to auto-launch a VR app when you insert your phone.
  8. Assemble the Viewer:
    • Fold the Cardboard into its final shape as a VR viewer.
    • Make sure everything is firmly glued and dried.
  9. Insert Your Phone and Test:
    • Slide your smartphone into the Cardboard holder.
    • Open a VR app or a 360° video and look through the lenses.


  • Ensure the cardboard is cut precisely for the best fit.
  • Be careful with the lenses as they are the most crucial part for a clear VR experience.
  • Customize the viewer to fit your phone and your face comfortably.

Once you’ve assembled your DIY cardboard VR viewer, you can explore a variety of VR apps and 360° videos available on your smartphone’s app store. This project not only provides a basic understanding of VR technology but also offers a hands-on approach to learning and creativity.

What types of Smartphones works best with Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard is designed to be compatible with a wide range of smartphones, but for the best experience, certain features and specifications are more favorable. Here’s what to look for in a smartphone that works best with Google Cardboard:

  1. Screen Size: Ideally, the phone should have a screen size between 4 and 6 inches. This range ensures that the screen fits well within the Cardboard’s viewing window and provides an immersive experience.
  2. Screen Resolution: Higher screen resolutions provide a clearer and more detailed VR experience. Look for a phone with at least a Full HD (1080p) resolution, though QHD (1440p) or higher is preferable.
  3. Gyroscope Sensor: This is crucial for tracking head movements. A gyroscope allows the VR environment to respond as you move your head, creating an immersive experience. Most modern smartphones include this sensor.
  4. Processor and RAM: A decent processor and enough RAM (at least 2GB, ideally 4GB or more) are important for running VR applications smoothly. Higher performance reduces lag and improves the overall experience.
  5. Accelerometer and Magnetometer: These sensors, often standard in smartphones, contribute to the VR experience. The accelerometer helps in tracking movement, while the magnetometer (or compass) can be used for orientation.
  6. Operating System: Google Cardboard is compatible with both Android and iOS. However, ensure the smartphone runs a relatively recent version of these operating systems for better app support and performance.
  7. Battery Life: VR applications can be power-intensive. A smartphone with good battery life or efficient power management is advantageous.
  8. Comfortable Weight: Since the phone will be mounted on your face, a lighter smartphone can make the VR experience more comfortable, especially for prolonged use.

Examples of Suitable Smartphones:

  • High-End: Latest models of iPhone (iPhone X and newer), Samsung Galaxy S series (S9 and newer), Google Pixel series.
  • Mid-Range: OnePlus Nord series, Samsung Galaxy A series, Xiaomi mid-range models.
  • Budget-Friendly: Older models of flagship phones or budget models with the necessary sensors and decent performance.


  • Compatibility with Google Cardboard can vary between different models and manufacturers.
  • Some VR apps may have specific requirements or may not be available on all platforms.
  • Always check the individual app requirements and your phone’s specifications to ensure compatibility.

Google Cardboard, as an entry-level virtual reality (VR) platform, has its share of advantages and limitations.

Here’s an overview of the pros and cons:


  1. Affordability: Google Cardboard is one of the most cost-effective ways to experience VR, making it accessible to a wide audience.
  2. Ease of Use: Its simple design and functionality make it easy for anyone to use, requiring no technical expertise.
  3. Wide Compatibility: It works with most smartphones, regardless of the brand or operating system, as long as the phone fits in the viewer.
  4. Portability: Being made of lightweight cardboard, it’s easy to carry around and can be used anywhere.
  5. Educational Value: It’s a great tool for educational purposes, allowing students to experience immersive learning at a low cost.
  6. Open-Source Design: The DIY aspect of Google Cardboard encourages experimentation and customization, which can be particularly appealing in educational and creative settings.
  7. Good Introduction to VR: It offers a basic introduction to VR, allowing users to explore the possibilities of this technology without a significant investment.


  1. Limited Immersion: Due to its basic design, the immersion level is significantly lower compared to more advanced VR headsets.
  2. Lack of Advanced Features: It doesn’t have features like built-in headphones, motion tracking, or hand controllers, which are available in higher-end VR headsets.
  3. Comfort and Durability: Being made of cardboard, it can wear out quickly and may not be comfortable for extended use, especially compared to padded headsets.
  4. Dependency on Smartphone Quality: The VR experience heavily depends on the smartphone used, with better experiences on higher-end phones.
  5. Limited App Compatibility: Some VR applications may not be compatible with Google Cardboard or may offer limited functionality.
  6. No Integrated Control System: It typically relies on a magnet or touch button for control, which is less intuitive and effective than the controllers used with more sophisticated VR systems.
  7. Potential for Motion Sickness: Like with many VR systems, users might experience motion sickness, and this can be more pronounced with the basic tracking capabilities of Google Cardboard.

Google Cardboard is an excellent, budget-friendly introduction to VR, especially suitable for educational purposes and casual users. However, for those seeking a more immersive and feature-rich VR experience, higher-end VR headsets would be more appropriate. Despite its limitations, Google Cardboard plays a crucial role in making VR more accessible and in promoting interest in VR technology.