Google Cardboard – virtual reality cardboard helmet

Virtual reality on your smartphone! It is under this slogan that Google offers craftsmen to make a virtual reality helmet out of cardboard and a smartphone. Let’s see what it is and how it works.

Google Cardboard - virtual reality cardboard helmet

For the first time this helmet was presented at the conference Google I/O 2014. View the presentation of the helmet at Google I/O 2014 you can here, official helmet page –

Anyone can make a helmet, provided that you managed to find all the components: cardboard and lenses for assembling the helmet itself, Velcro so that the design is collapsible, magnets to control virtual reality, an elastic band for fixing a smartphone and, an optional element , NFC tag so that the smartphone knows that it has been put into a virtual reality helmet.

Some of the helmet components will not be easy to find. It is noteworthy that after the publication of templates for self-assembly of the helmet on the Internet, a few hours later, a set called the Google Cardboard VR Toolkit appeared in one of the American online stores, which includes pre-cut cardboard and all other parts. It’s a pity that none of us had figured it out before.

When all the components for the helmet are ready, you simply assemble it by inserting your smartphone inside, look inside the helmet and enjoy virtual reality.

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So, what do you need to create a Google Cardboard virtual reality helmet?

The picture below shows all the necessary parts for making a helmet and a description with original links, mainly to the Amazon store.

Components of a virtual reality helmet Google Cardboard

1. Cardboard

It must be corrugated cardboard (it is recommended to use class E micro-corrugated cardboard – with the number of corrugations 295 +/- 13 per 1 meter and a thickness of 1.6 mm). You can read more about corrugation categories on Wikipedia (English version). Such cardboard can be found in art stores. For a good result, look for a strong, thin cardboard. The minimum sheet size is 22×56 cm, 1.5 mm thick. The guys from Google suggest buying cardboard here and here.

2. Lenses

This component is the hardest to find. The helmet requires lenses with a focal length of 45mm. Biconvex lenses work better because they prevent distortion at the edges. The developers of the helmet from Google used a set of lenses Durovis OpenDive Lens Kitavailable here (USA) and here (Europe).

3. Magnets

You need a neodymium ring magnet, like here or here, and one ceramic disc magnet, like here or here. Approximate size 19mm in diameter and 3mm thick.

4. Velcro

Two strips of ordinary strong Velcro with an adhesive base. Approximate size 20×30 mm.

5. Elastic band

One rubber ring to prevent the smartphone from slipping out. Minimum length 8 cm.

6. NFC tag (optional)

One NFC tag is a sticker. Record the following web link on the label: cardboard://v1.0.0. This can be done, for example, using the NFC TagWriter by NXP program.

You will also need a ruler, glue, scissors, a paper cutter, or access to a laser cutter.

For cutting cardboard, the masters from Google offer two templates: one for cutting on a laser cutter (file laser_cut.eps in the archive) and the second for cutting with a paper knife (file print_yourself.pdf in the archive). In the second option, you need to print the template on paper, stick it on cardboard, aligning the numbers in the light and dark circles (the light one is glued on top of the dark one) and cut it out. Templates can be downloaded from the Google site or here.


After everything is ready, the helmet is assembled as shown on, your smartphone is inserted inside.

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Beforehand, the Cardboard demo program must be installed on the smartphone, inside which you can choose one of the following demos:

Earthwhere you can fly Google Earth;

Land where you can fly on Google Earth

Guidewhere you can visit Versailles with a local guide;

cb Tour Guide

YouTubewhere you watch the video on a massive screen;

YouTube where you watch videos on a massive screen

Exhibitionwhere you can view cultural artifacts from all sides;

An exhibition where you can view cultural artifacts from all sides

Photospherewhere you can look around while inside the photospheres (I couldn’t take a screenshot here because this demo didn’t run for me);

Vue streetwhere you ride around Paris on a summer day;

Rue Vue where you'll take a ride through Paris on a summer's day

Windy daywhere you watch a cartoon that takes place around you.

Windy day where you watch a cartoon that takes place around you

Unfortunately, that’s all there is for now. But it is worth hoping that soon there will be more programs for the helmet Google Cardboard. True, you can try games for Durovis Dive, but for this you will need to attach a helmet to your head and connect some kind of gamepad to your smartphone.

Which smartphones are suitable for the Google Cardboard virtual reality helmet?

Now let’s figure out which phone is suitable for a helmet. It must be a smartphone running Android version 4.1 or higher. Preferably with NFC support. Below is a list of phones that are compatible with the headset.

Fully compatible smartphones:

– Google Nexus 4 and 5;
– Motorola Moto X;
– Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5;
– Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Partially compatible smartphones:

– HTC One (magnet control does not work);
– Motorola Moto G (magnet control does not work);
– Samsung Galaxy S3 (magnet control not working, head tracking issues, rendering issues).

Development of your programs

If you are a programmer, then you can independently develop programs for a helmet from Google. To do this, Google offers an experimental VR Toolkit. Why experimental? Because Google is not going to support the VR Toolkit at the same level and with the same quality as the Android SDK core and libraries. This toolkit can change or break at any time, because work on it continues.

However, for those who wish, there are tutorials and documentation for the VR Toolkit. In addition, there is the possibility of feedback from the developers.


Summing up everything written, it is worth thanking a group of enthusiasts from the company Google, who created such an affordable virtual reality helmet and shared her idea with everyone absolutely free. Thanks to them, we can enjoy the virtual world with our smartphone and special software. It should be noted that this approach opens up far-reaching prospects. After all, it is enough to connect game controllers to a smartphone and you can not only contemplate virtual reality, but also participate in it. In addition, all interested developers can create their own software for the helmet. Google Cardboardbecause for this Google provides tools VR Toolkit. We look forward to the development of the project.

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