Google Cardboard

By Ruiqi Mao


Google Cardboard consists of a single head-mounted view (generally made from cardboard). The display comes from a handheld device that supports Google Cardboard, generally Android phones running Android 4.1+ or iPhones running iOS 8.0+.

Input for Google Cardboard comes in the form of a single button on the side of the viewer. In legacy models of Google Cardboard, the button consisted of a magnet and used the device's magnetometer to detect a change in the magnetic field and thus recognize input. In newer versions, the button is covered in conductive material and is connected to a mechanism that uses the conductive material to create a "tap" on the display.

As phone displays are generally not produced for VR content, they will display up to 60 Hz, which is less than the more ideal 90 Hz on other VR headsets. As such, using Google Cardboard for extended periods of time can cause symptoms of cyber sickness and motion sickness.

Using Google Cardboard requires the user to physically hold the headset up with a hand to use. As the headset is made with cardboard, tolerances are also not exact, resulting in unfocused pictures and an improper sense of depth. Thus, Google Cardboard trades price and convenience for a less immersive VR experience than other platforms.

Software Requirements

Development System

Google Cardboard is developed for using the GoogleVR plugins for various software development tools.

Headset System

Running Google Cardboard applications requires Android 4.1+ at minimum. It also requires the device to have a gyroscope for head tracking.


The price can vary depending on the source. On Google's official Cardboard page, the official viewer is $15 USD at the time of writing. Third party viewers can be found elsewhere for as low as $1 USD, though quality may not be as good as the official.

Where to Obtain

The official viewer can be obtained from Google at

Third party viewers can be found online at sites such as Amazon and eBay.


As the viewer is made from cardboard, the tolerances in construction of the viewers are high. This means that depending on the viewer quality, the lenses may not be focused properly or positioned correctly, leading to a less than optimal VR experience.

Depending on the device, the button may not work properly. In testing, the Galaxy S8 specifically has been found to be inconsistent with the button due to its narrow form factor and its curved screen. Using the button a few times will cause the device to slide down the viewer due to the curved screen and thus cause the button to no longer work.

Due to most phone displays being capped at 60 Hz, using Google Cardboard for extended periods of time may lead to symptoms of cyber sickness and motion sickness.