Unofficial Cardboard's Richard Oleff champions the humble cardboard headset and explains why people shouldn't count it out just yet.
The virtual reality (VR) industry has come a long way over the last few years, but it still has a long way to go to saturate the market. The content is not the issue in VR anymore because the 360° cameras have become widely available and extremely affordable, which makes any person a conduit for VR content. If you search anywhere in the world on the YouTube app and use the words “360 video” after the location, then you’ll find some 360° content – mostly shot by a random person with a camera.
So, you might be wondering what the issue is in the industry right now? Why hasn’t it exploded like many people have thought it would by now?
In my humble opinion, the biggest hurdle in this entire industry is educating the public. VR is available everywhere these days for free on YouTube, Vimeo and dozens of other apps, but the general population doesn’t know to access the content. Of the people that actually know that you can view 360° videos online, most of them don’t know that you can view that content in VR with the touch of the icon on the screen. The second issue is that the distribution is not the easiest right now because you must download the YouTube or Vimeo apps to see the content in VR. However, once past that hurdle, the average person is blown away when they see content for the first time in a Cardboard viewer.
We’ve recently spoken at a couple of conferences and most people didn’t even mention cardboard VR viewers as the way into the market. A lot of people associate the high-end head mounted devices (HMDs) as the best way to experience the world of VR, however, the only way to get to the masses is through Cardboard VR viewers. If people don’t experience VR in cardboard, there is a chance they will never experience VR at all. Simply put, there just aren’t enough high-end HMD’s in the market and even as their prices drop, the average person is not going to spend over $50 to get one.
Companies, sports teams, educators and even celebrities are using custom branded cardboard as a marketing tool to get their content to the masses. These cardboard viewers can be sponsored and given away or sold at a very reasonable price through retail locations and online. They can even be limited edition completely customised with anyone’s individual artwork for as little as $9.95 for one viewer, because they can be printed in such small batches. Let’s face it, VR world, Cardboard is the easiest and least expensive way to explore VR.
There are amazing high-end VR viewers, such as the Vive and Oculus, and gamers have mostly taken to those despite their higher prices because of the stunning graphics in the games they play. The average person, though, can get a pair of cardboard viewers and view tens of thousands of pieces of content that will literally make them feel like they are there! If there is one thing I want to let the general public know, it’s that there is amazing VR content shot by both amateurs and professionals that will show them a tremendous VR experience using cardboard. Sports, travel, education, history, wildlife and much more is currently on the YouTube app, readily available for you right now to experience the world of VR.
It’s a perfect time to start VR viewing, plus it’s affordable. If you really like the world of VR in cardboard, you can jump to the next level with the Vive or Oculus. Now that you know the VR world is accessible and affordable, do yourself a favour and don’t miss out.