Last weekend I had a couple days to commit to a project. I chose to make some VR goggles based on the Google cardboard design. The folded cardboard design seemed very smart and was a very cool way to show how accessible VR is becoming. All you need is some cheap lenses and a pizza box, as they say.
I wanted something more sturdy than a pizza box, something adjustable. Instead of corrugated cardboard I decided to use 5mm foam core, in sleek matte black finish of course. I also bought some 5mm rubber foam for the rim of the goggles to give it that nice snug fit, flush against the forehead and nose. Keeping out any sneaky light.
The lenses were from Amazon, sold as a part of the Dive kit, they are plastic but work fine for only 7 bucks.
Perhaps if I get more serious I can buy some glass lenses.
Measure twice and cut once, is the rule. Fuck the rule. But not too hard. I was able to construct the goggles with out any blueprints or plans, it's very simple. Just a box basically. The important part is the distance between the screen, lenses and eyes. Which I tested by first mounting the lenses in their sockets and then simply making a stand out of some cardboard over the phone. I started with a stand height of about 5cm and slowly removed pieces until I hit a sweet spot at around 4.5cm. I did the same with the eye to lens distance.
The build quality is strong and the phone sits securely in its holster. The foam core is perfect for this and with some strong glue, I feel confident that these will last a long time, and I look forward to taking them on my next plane trip. I added 4 curtain hooks to the top and bottom, these hold the phone against the box using some elastic bands. And am considering a head strap next, for hands free use. The longest I have used the VR device is about 10 - 15 minutes at a time and my eyes dont get sore, but do feel slightly strained. I don't think this is from the light or lenses, but rather the motion blur, slow refresh and low pixel count. You really need HD screen for each eye. At the moment, splitting an HD 1080-1929 screen between 2 eyes is not enough, plus the edges get lost. It is still pretty cool though, and if you take spherical photos with the Nexus, it's definitely I neat little addition to have the VR goggles to get that extra immersion.
I will keep playing with the device, testing apps and seeing what else is useful. The cost of lenses and material was just under 20 bucks, so if you are looking for a fun 1 day build project and already own a Cardboard compatible phone I would recommend giving it a go.