Google Cardboard is seized by brands - is virtual reality about to take off?


Everybody’s talking about virtual reality in 2016 – Microsoft HoloLens and Oculus Rift are just around the corner, then there’s Vive, Gear VR and PlayStation VR… and is Google Cardboard really a viable, budget option? Dan Calladine, Carat’s head of media futures, says brands are starting to pick up on the trend…

Virtual Reality is all the rage in some circles, with Oculus Rift finally coming out at the end of this month (it's fully sold out as far as I know), but for me the real sign that it's taking off is that mass market brands are getting involved, with their own versions of 'Oculus Thrift', the Google Cardboard.

Google Cardboard costs only about £10, and uses your existing phone but with special VR apps. The experience isn't as good as Oculus Rift, but whenever I've shown it to friends at my home they've immediately gone to Amazon on their phones and bought one.

Last month I saw that Coca Cola was using multi-pack packaging in different ways to make virtual reality viewers. 

Earlier this week McDonald's unveiled a video of a viewer made from a Happy Meal box - called, appropriately, Happy Goggles.

More examples as I find them (but you have to admit that both Coke and McDonald's doing something very similar is a great endorsement!)

The alternatives:

  • Microsoft HoloLens

Microsoft’s augmented reality headsets are due to start rolling out to pre-order customers in the US and Canada on March 30. This is the Development Edition and it’ll cost $3,000. The HoloLens promises “mixed reality” - allowing holograms to look and sound like they’re part of your world.

  • Oculus Rift

The consumer version of the Oculus Rift will launch in early 2016, with pre-orders being taken from 6 January at 4pm and shipping expected in March. The consumer version is available for $599, which is around £410, but that doesn't include tax or shipping so the overall cost could be significantly higher in the UK.

  • PlayStation VR

Sony is aiming for a release in the first half of 2016 – they haven’t released a specific price yet but it’s likely to be around the same as a new gaming platform.

  • HTC Vive

This headset will cost £689 in the UK and will come with two VR experiences as part of the bundle – Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption. It will be available from April 5.

  • Samsung Gear VR

This gadget is available now costing £120 – but you’ll need a compatible Samsung Galaxy handset to make it work.

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