Assignment 2 Sertin and Mussman – Google Cardboard
By Carla Sertin
March 5, 2016
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality (VR) headset that uses stereoscopic images to create the perception of depth. It can be paired with most smartphones, which makes it more accessible than other headsets (the GearVR requires an Android device).
While it provides a basic 360 degree experience, a few users said that the lenses weren’t adjusted correctly for their eyes (they felt uncomfortable when wearing the headset). Considering that the Cardboard costs only $20, compared with the $100 price tag on the GearVR, it delivers strong VR experiences. In general, VR has caused nausea in some users, and we had one user complain of nausea almost immediately while viewing a rollercoaster experience. That is an issue for VR headsets across the board, and is related to the perception of motion in the video versus the lack of actual motion in reality (your brain reads that you’re going down a rollercoaster, but your body isn’t actually moving).
After we tried the roller coaster experience, we decided not to show it to other users — the first person could only stand a few seconds of viewing the video. The other users tried a video in which zombies come out of a gate and are killed by a man next to you.
They were definitely encapsulated, many said they felt like they were really there. Users said they definitely felt more connected to the experience vs seeing it just on a smartphone. Some were audibly shocked at the fact that they could look around and were ‘transported’ to a new location.
They generally liked the experience, but a few noted that they had heard of the Oculus and seemed much more excited about that technology than the Cardboard. They hadn’t tried the Oculus, but seemed interested in the brand name.
People around the users seemed really interested, several asked if they could try the technology for themselves. A few people walking by did double-takes, so there was definitely an interest among students.
The main dislike –besides nausea– was the graphics quality. It removed some of the immersion, but users still felt that it was effective. In hindsight, we could have tried one video and one CGI experience to see if there was a difference in how each was perceived.
While testing the Cardboard, many students turned us down because they were too busy or uninterested in trying it.
The product concept we had was an alert system that tells students to take a break from studying every few hours (the frequency can be adjusted by the user) and tells them to enjoy a mini vacation. Using the Google Headset, they are transported to a relaxing location where they can de-stress for a few minutes before re-entering reality. It would have little motion, to avoid nausea.
This targets college students. It helps relieve some of the stress that college life puts on them and allows them to take short breaks — which studies have shown increases productivity and creativity. This could also be applied in the counseling center.
Another concept would be to establish VR lounges near universities. They could function like internet cafes/arcades used to, and could provide a variety of experiences — a relaxation room, a multiplayer area…etc. This is definitely a better and cheaper alternative to having Oculus, because of Cardboards cheap cost the cafe could have many devices. The cafe also wouldn’t have to worry about device maintenance or theft.
Because of Cardboards cheap cost local stores can give the device out as a promotion or for free. Stores can create virtual stores and demo their products on their app. This is the one advantage that cardboard has over the Oculus Rift or similar VR technology. Cardboards cheap cost allows it to be given out and allows for more people to have access to the technology.
We’re assuming that stress is an issue among students, that taking breaks would help them, that VR would be helpful during those breaks, and that students would be able to access a Cardboard. One other assumption is that students would actually take a break when alerted; a difficult feat during midterm season.
We would definitely need to give surveys to students to understand what they want and whether they would use this technology.
The only negatives we’ve seen with this technology are people getting nauseous using it. Users also complained about poor graphics but they said this didn’t affect general experience. It is important to note that none of the people who demoed used VR before. Users were very excited to test it out, however we are unable to tell if users would be interested in using the technology for the long term. In order to test this we would need to test the same users periodically, possibly every 2 weeks. This would allow us to see if there are long term benefits or interest in using this technology.