Google has shipped five million Cardboard devices – wearables that allow users to experience various virtual reality (VR) scenarios via mobile apps. Cardboard was launched in mid-2014 and has since steadily grown with users across all genders and ages worldwide.
The tech giant said in a blog that its Cardboard app had been downloaded 25 million times from the Google Play Store. Between October and December 2015, Google also added 10 million additional so-called immersive apps to its Play Store.
Commenting on the popularity of virtual reality and Cardboard's role in it, Clay Bavor, vice president of Google's VR division, said, "The interesting thing about Cardboard is, the smartphones weren't built for VR. With the exception of a few, they were all designed and built before Cardboard existed. So there's no thought about how you could optimize a smartphone to make it great not only as a smartphone, but also as the core of a VR device."
The device itself is fairly low-tech. It has been built with half a pizza box, pieces of Velcro, two magnets, two lenses and a rubber band. Cardboard is designed to be used as a wearable. When connected to various mobile apps via a smartphone, the device transforms into a thing of beauty – an immersive VR wearable device.
Google's Cardboard comes in various fun-themed shapes and sizes including the Star Wars, New York Times and Mattel. Each of the devices is priced at around $20 (£14) and are available for purchase at major online retail websites. There are also several Cardboard-compatible VR devices available in the market that are priced as low as $12-$13.
In November, Google had said that its video-sharing site Youtube would support VR content. Remarkably enough, the tech firm also said in its blog that it has so far recorded users viewing over 350,000 hours of VR videos on YouTube.
Google has also ventured into educational VR experiences. Over 500,000 students have reported taking a VR experience like touring the White House or going on virtual wildlife field trips, the company said.