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Why I Love the New Google Cardboard

Kayla Benjamin

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There’s a new piece of tech coming out. Okay, in our digital world, it seems like there’s a new digital doodad every other week. But this one… It’s amazing. Bordering on magical. Everyone should know about it.
It also happens to be a cardboard box. A cardboard box with lenses. And, combined with a free app, this box transports you to a place where you can experience things that you would never encounter outside of it.
It’s called the Google Cardboard; it’s a virtual reality simulator. You put the small box over your eyes (it’s got a little cut out for your nose), and stick your phone into a slot in the front, lining it up with the little plastic lenses inside; add a pair of headphones, and you’re ready for something incredible. Using 360 degree video, it makes you feel like you are really and truly in the car listening to a conversation, or on the field watching an airdrop in South Sudan.
But where could you find these interesting videos filmed with a 360 degree camera? There’s an app for that! It’s called NYT VR (stands for New York Times Virtual Reality), and the whole app is devoted to a series of videos made specifically for virtual reality adventures.
Google partnered with the New York Times to distribute the Cardboard, as well as produce the app. Anyone with a print subscription to the NYT should have gotten a Cardboard for free with their newspaper delivery on Sunday, November 8th.
Additionally, there is an Android camera app that allows you to take pictures designed specifically for the Google Cardboard. These pictures are taken in 3-D, and you can even add sound–so when you look at the picture with the Cardboard, it seems to transport you right back into that moment.
The device is about 3 dollars to buy online. And when you use it, it truly feels like you are on the scene of the video. If the movie is set on an open field, you can see the green grass and blue sky by looking up or down–just as if you were really there. When you turn your head, the scene moves with you, so you can look around the room. The experience is startling and exhilarating.
But even beyond just being really cool, the Google Cardboard also represents an important new development in the world of media. Virtual reality in this form–cheap, accessible, portable–could possibly be the next new thing when it comes to dissemination of news.
And it has the potential to inspire so much compassion. Humanity faces an issue in that we feel estranged from people across the world; it is often difficult to truly engage with and feel empathy for far-off places the way we do within our own communities. But with virtual reality, it is so easy to feel connected through news; so easy to remember that all the people of the world are truly human beings who need and deserve our humanity.
And that’s why I love the new Google Cardboard. I hope you get a chance to try it soon–it might just be the

next big thing.

google cardboard with phone google cardboard modeled

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