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Google Cardboard: a small step for virtual reality, a big step in the travel experience

Updated on May 1, 2016

After the sleep of connected glasses (Google Glass), the Mountain View giant has launched a virtual reality project: Google Cardboard. What consequences in our travel experience?

Google Carboard-vignetteMalgré the buzz, the Glass project did not meet the expected success and the reasons are many: high cost for the acquisition of frames, the immaturity of the public on this technology and reluctance in terms of 'ethics.

In the race for augmented reality Oculus Rift (acquired by Facebook) and Microsoft HoloLens already look great but are still inaccessible to the public. Apparently Google has learned the lessons of his disappointment and against attack with Google Cardboard: a virtual reality mask cost.

Do not confuse augmented reality and virtual reality

Be careful not to confuse augmented reality with virtual reality that is a "computer simulation of real or imaginary environments" (Wikipedia). It is reinforced by visual perception, audible and / or haptic coming immerse the user in a disturbing experience of reality! What I find crazy in this experiment is the dualism between our consciousness that knows what it is reality and our perception of this "other reality". In other words, I know I am physically in my living room but I have the feeling of being thrown in a virtual reality which seems quite real. If you taste the virtual reality experience, you certainly share this paradox of mind!

While Google Glass costing 1,500 euros, you can flirt with virtual reality for a few euros only with Google Cardboard.

First step: the mask Google Carboard

Google Cardboard mask is simply provided lenses and a host support for smartphone Android, the operating system developed by Google. There are two ways to obtain it by ordering online or by making it yourself!

certification-markPour lazy or impatient (like me) go to Google's dedicated site which accredits some manufacturers with the label "Works with Google Cardboard." These companies handpicked deliver you home a complete kit. You only have to assemble, fold the elements to enter the world of virtual reality in less than 5 minutes stopwatch in hand.

If you are a handyman apprentice, Google provides the boss and with a little patience and some accessories (cardboard, glass, magnets, Velcro, rubber band) you can make and customize your own Google Cardboard!

For any solutions, please visit the website of Google Carboard, in the "Get Cardboard".

In the official application Cardboard, Google offers some virtual reality demonstration services and virtually all related to tourism:

There are also other applications developed by Google and Youtube videos compatible as 360 ° or the Expeditions: an education program that allows teachers to illustrate their courses by sending their students around the world in a virtual reality . Virtual trips also form the youth!

And finally, a new travel experience

It is still a nascent project but private publishers have already developed their own applications. Among the applications to download on the Google Play Store, always in relation to tourism, we can already:

We should arrive soon see new applications developed by private companies as by destination management organizations that will have beautiful game to virtually guide tourists.

For developers, Google provides a specific development kit. Videographers can use Jump, a ring upon which 16 cameras arranged in a circle and whose assembly of different angles provides a stereoscopic image. There is even a version of Jump for GoPro.


The experience is truly baffling even if it must win in quality and reading comfort. For a few minutes viewing, it is better to keep the seals close to calm migraine. It reminds me of the first 3D cinema experiences that are vastly improved since. However Google Cardboard offers first virtual reality experience at lower costs.

We bet that the display and experience are improved in the coming months. There is a safe bet in this direction. One advantage of Google Cardboard is its development jointly linked to the hardware and screens smartphones borne by the manufacturers. A growing market (at the expense of desktop and portable) which puts fierce competition from major manufacturers including marketing is mainly based on the advanced technology and features. A race for innovation that indirectly benefit Google Cardboard!

To date, yet nothing can replace the actual visit but virtual reality will be a great way to project the tourist in a new immersive visitor experience. Tomorrow technologies will be more accurate and will radically change the way we prepare our stay and even live from the sofa, with connections on mobile growing from home. Mobility begins in the couch, I was talking in my studio Academies digital tourism in Aix les Bains.

Finally, the promise of a journey of the mind and senses with a piece of cardboard and a smartphone, fascinating.

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