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Google’s New Head of Virtual Reality on What They’re Planning Next

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No joke, it's cardboard.

So it was no surprise that when Google announced in June of 2014 that it had built a virtual reality headset almost entirely of cardboard, many people thought it was another of the company’s gags—if several months delayed. The project, dubbed Google Cardboard, has been anything but a joke. On Jan. 27, Google will announce that 5 million Cardboard have shipped. More importantly, the company says people are using them: 25 million Cardboard apps have been downloaded from its Play Store, meaning users have tried an average of five different experiences. The most popular app for the device is Chair in a Room, a surprisingly unsettling first-person horror game. But Cardboard apps range from rollercoaster simulators to field trips visits to well-known global monuments.

Cardboard may be the lowest-tech gadget in the history of modern consumer electronics. Its ingredients include about half a pizza box worth of cardboard, two magnets, a couple pieces of Velcro, two lenses and a single rubber band. Pop in a smartphone loaded with the right apps, and Cardboard becomes a virtual reality viewer. When you first see a Google Cardboard unit in person, it’s hard to believe it can do anything impressive. Then you put it on.

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