Commentary

The Best Use Of Google Cardboard Is The Recycling Bin

Anyone else given Google Cardboard a go? What did you think? I have to say after a great deal of excitement and an online origami lesson in getting my cardboard put together, I am not yet convinced.

it might have just been me and it may well have been teething issues, as the app had only recently become available on iOS. But honestly, is that it? I know you should not expect too much for a ten-pound piece of cardboard, but I had kind of expected a little more from the experience. For anyone who hasn't tried, you start off very excited with a flat piece of cardboard that you eventually work out how to make a rudimentary Google Cardboard VR set, complete with a holder for your smartphone.

Here's where the problems begin. My version came with an elastic band -- I'm not kidding, it really did -- which is supposed to stop the phone from slipping about. It's important because going "back" in a menu requires that the user turns their head ninety degrees to make the phone go vertical. This, of course, makes it slip inside your very basic viewer. However, the option of having an elastic band constantly in view across the middle of the screen is actually worse than having a view skewed to one side because the phone has slipped.

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The other control is, in the case of my box, a small button that slides to activate a control that is in the frame, such as starting a new piece of the demonstration software. The trouble is, it doesn't always seem to work -- and when it does, you're moving a metal button against cardboard that starts to bend and buckle after just a couple of minutes. I couldn't get everything in the demonstration package to work -- a couple of things did and were good fun, but several just would not respond. 

Even after downloading some other apps, i was left wondering what all the fuss is about. A few things worked, but many did not. The result was a very battered cardboard box, housing a phone that was moving from one side to the other like an extra out of the "Poseidon Adventure."

Listen -- I know it's just a demonstrator costing ten pounds, but not even my kids would give it more than ten seconds before being fed up with a button that only sometimes worked, software that only occasionally responds and a phone slip-sliding around making the view skewed and out of focus.

I'm a big believer in the power of VR to provide new ways for brands to surprise and delight customers. I can confidently predict, however, that Google Cardboard, as it currently stands on iOS, will play little or no part in this exciting development.

This column was originally published in the London Blog on May 23, 2016.

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