Google Cardboard

The Ed Tech Blog was delayed due to weather last week (that’s a legitimate excuse right?), but we are back on track this week.  In this week’s blog post I just wanted to share a new toy that I’ve recently become fascinated with: Google Cardboard.

For those that have not heard of this yet, Google Cardboard is an inexpensive 3-dimensional viewer that is composed of a free app (Google Cardboard) and a viewer (literally cardboard in most cases). It’s really this generations ‘ViewFinder.” Google Cardboard came out just a year or so ago and I think that there are some exciting possibilities for this technology in the class room.  Currently having 3D tools is quite expensive.  I think that Cardboard has the possibility of making 3D images more accessible to all.  A few possible ideas for this (as long as there are apps created for it) would be things like anatomy, history, geography, art history, really anything where objects and/or places are a central feature to the content.  Students can use their smart phones and an inexpensive viewer ($20.00 in most cases) to see these objects in 3D.

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Another possibility is the potential to actually create 3D images.  Google has Cardboard Camera currently available for Android devices.  They claim that one can create 3D images by using a pano-type photograph. If this is true and the creation of 3D images is as simple as taking a photograph, imagine the possibilities for students to create their own 3D content.  May Term journals could come to life, campus tours could be virtual, descriptive speeches could have a unique visual aid. I’m sure there are other creative possibilities out there.

However, with my excitement about the possibilities, I’m discouraged by my inability to play around with actually creating 3D content (I have only iOS devices) but Google claims to be making an iOS version of its Cardboard Camera soon.  Additionally it appears that the apps that may be the most likley to be used in the classroom are currently Android only. I think we may be a little bit away from students being able to create their own content, but for now there could be some real possibilities for showing visual content to students in the classroom.

Until the 3D available apps and content development improves, there are also some non-3D alternatives that may prove useful/interesting.  YouTube has a number of 360 video (#360Video). These do not require a special viewer as they are not really in 3D. There are also so-called VR videos but I find that the effect is really minimal and the videos are still best simply viewed from the screen (no cardboard viewer needed).

If you are interested in seeing Cardboard just let me know.  I have a viewer in my office and the app on my phone.  Unfortunately I think direct classroom application is not all that feasible just yet, but I predict in the near future this technology being very useful once it is more platform independent and the content is easier to create.