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Google Cardboard, a VR gadget for the masses

Google Cardboard, a VR gadget for the massesThere are technologies that arrive and become a phenomenon out of the blue. Then there are those that you see coming for a very long time, so by the time they hit, they're either vapour or you've become too old to use them.

Virtual reality did fall in the latter category with Oculus Rift's slow and painful progress -- and then Google hit the world with the cheeky Cardboard, a simple, effective and cheap way to get fantastic VR on the cheap, and easy enough for everyone to adopt it quickly. Here are a few ways you can get Google Cardboard, unofficially, as well the best apps for it...

One of the cheapest ways to get Google Cardboard will cost you a lot in patience. You can simply download the instructions and get folding. What may be tricky to get a hold of are the 45mm focal distance lenses. If you do manage to fold your own Cardboard, do share some tips for our readers in the comments below.

Buy unofficial Cardboards
There are various enterprising companies who have jumped on the Cardboard bandwagon to sell brilliant pre-made or semi-built Cardboard units online. One such place is where you can buy units starting from Rs 430 up to a bit more; it is also available on Amazon India. Cardboard units made out of... well... cardboard are rough around the edges, so much so you will get marks on your nose and cheeks.

There are more Cardboards available from the likes of Ziess, Knox Labs, Archos and a few other little-known players. These options have additions to design, NFC tags, made with sturdier materials and more comfort for longer periods.

To run most Cardboard apps smoothly, you will need a good phone that can run games like Asphalt 8 without any stutter. If there is too much stutter it could lead to motion sickness and nausea.

What you need:

* A cardboard, and
* An Android smartphone with 5- or 6-inch screen

At present, Cardboard is only for Android right now, but there are many iOS apps surfacing for the bigger iPhone 6 models.

The apps
Google Cardboard App, where you can see a few demos as well as download and launch apps from.

Rollercoaster apps
Can't stand real life rollercoasters, then hop into a virtual rollercoaster with VR Rollercoaster and Rollercoaster VR. With VR graphics that will make your jaw drop as you get a front row seat on a crazy Rollercoaster ride. You can take to the cosmos with the VR Cosmic Rollercoaster app, which is less visceral, but a lot cooler as you zip by planets and nebulae in your cosmic rollercoaster car.

Vanguard V
Take the fight to the aliens in Vanguard V. An on-the-rails shooter where you play as a heroine wearing a robotic suit, you dodge deadly asteroids and obliterate aliens with overwhelming firepower. With fantastic graphics, Vanguard V is one of the best games on Cardboard VR at this point.

Kaiju Fury
From the mind of Ian Hunter, the visual effects supervisor on The Dark Knight and Interstellar, comes a 360-degree virtual reality short movie experience. Watch from any angle as two Kaiju monsters of Godzilla fame battle it out across a city. Apart from being an enjoyable watch, Kaiju Fury shows you what is possible with VR in the film industry space.

Tilt Brush Gallery
Whatever you create on Tilt Brush application on the PC, you can view in glorious 3D 360 on your Cardboard. Not only that -- your 3D painting renders in full brush by brush detail, and once done you can pan and walk around your creation.

Every VR compilation should have a scary game in it. Sisters is less a game and more a walkabout interactive presentation, where you find yourself in an eerie house, filled with the ghosts of the sisters. A fantastic short game that will make you jump out of your skin with the well done VR.

How to watch movies on your Cardboard
You can watch 3D movies using VR Cinema, CMoar and Goshot, as long as the movies are in side by side format, which can be tough to find, but they look fantastic and beautifully rendered. Also, these apps do render and playback side by side content, though you will have to experiment. You can also watch 3D 360-degree movies if you have any.

In addition to that, CMoar and GoShot let you view 2D movies and videos on your phone as if you're watching them in a movie theatre. YouTube does it too. Filling your head-space with a realistic movie hall. Popcorn not included.

If you were always curious about VR and want to try a cheaper version of it before you put down some serious cash on Oculus Rift, Sony's Project Morpheus or HTC's Vive VR. Cardboard is the cheapest and most fun way of getting into the phenomenon. With a list of quality apps that keeps growing and various businesses also getting into the phenomenon, it's a fun thingamajig to play around with.

Happy Cardboarding, and if you do spot anything out there you want us Cardboarders to experience, don't hesitate to post it in the comments.

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