Santa Claus granted one of my “dumber” present requests and brought me Cardboard.

Cardboard present

When Mrs. The Droid Lawyer told her friends and family what I wanted (or received), their response was the same: What the heck!?

But fortunately, Google’s version Cardboard is quite a bit different than actual cardboard. Well, technically it’s still cardboard, but it’s an enhancement.

Mrs. The Droid Lawyer got me this one from Amazon ($19.99). The box doesn’t have an NFC tag, to open the cardboard app when you set the phone inside, but you can add your own. Or you can purchase the NFC version ($24.99). Google’s Cardboard site lists several other manufacturers of the Cardboard viewer. Amazon also has several different versions. I recommended the one from I Am Cardboard because of the Amazon reviews.

Durability is an issue

Durability of the device is the biggest issue. The device is literally cut from a cardboard box, so you should know that your $19.99 will only last for a couple days/weeks of regular use — which is another reason I chose the less expensive I Am Cardboard version. Knox Labs makes an aluminum version, but it’s currently backordered. I might also try this plastic model.

You’ll also find that the Cardboard viewer absorbs a lot of grease and oils from your body, especially along the contact points for your nose, forehead, and fingers.

Cardboard grease

This is really disgusting, but doesn’t affect the viewer’s performance.

Overall, I plan to add some durability to the viewer by using duct tape to cover the contact points and reinforce the hinges and top cover flap.

Finally, you should know that some larger phones don’t work well with Cardboard (the viewer or the app). Nexus devices obviously work the best, followed by other manufacturers.

How Cardboard works

Google released an accompanying Cardboard app (free) that acts as the launch point for Cardboard apps and games. The Cardboard app also features a set of its own apps, including a fun story game called Windy Day and a unique way to view recommended YouTube videos.

The viewer and apps put the user into a semi-immersive three-dimensional viewing experience. If you’ve played with a VR device, then you’ll understand. If not, think about the last time you went to a 3D movie, but add on the ability to see the 3D picture 360-degrees.

Each app splits your phone’s screen into two windows.

Freefall Cardboard

The lenses in the viewer magnifies the images, and your brain translates the image into one picture. What you end up with is a viewing experience that you can’t describe without participating. Even the skeptical Mrs. The Droid Lawyer was impressed. Cardboard was a hit at The Droid Lawyer’s home on Christmas morning.

kids with cardboard

The assorted apps

Of course, you can use the Cardboard app without the viewer, but you won’t get the virtual reality experience. But you can click here if you do want to check out some of the available apps.

Thus far, I’m really loving Roller Coaster VR (free) — sit down when you’re viewing — and Caaaaardboard ($1.99).

Roller Coaster VR simulates a roller coaster through an Inca-like temple with a number of twists, turns, and even a jump over missing track.

Roller Coaster VR

When Droid Tot 1 played standing up, she tumbled to the ground. The other Tots didn’t have the same problems.

Get this app on Google Play

If you want a bigger challenge, check out Caaaaardboard.


This game simulates a base-jump and challenges you to hit point tiles during your freefall. This game’s well worth the $1.99.

Get this app on Google Play

I wouldn’t try either of these games if you’re prone to motion sickness.

For the need-to-stay-grounded folks, I’d suggest a stroll through the New York Public Library’s image gallery using Stereogram for Cardboard (free).

Stereogram for Cardboard

This app’s similar to the old View-Master that put stereoscopic 3D images in your face. Become awed once again with this new device.

Get this app on Google Play

There are hundreds of other apps that I haven’t tried, so if you have a favorite, let everyone know in the comments below. Please include a link.

Virtual reality for lawyers

Virtual reality is the next big thing for lawyers, especially litigators handling personal injuries, medical malpractice, and other areas.

The Cardboard app includes the ability to view photospheres in 360 degrees. You can also view movies or YouTube videos in a three-dimensional format, for a more immersive experience.

Imagine taking an inexpensive VR device into the courtroom and letting jurors view a three-dimensional image of your client’s accident scene or crushed up vehicle, or even using Cardboard to examine the surgical site. What about leading the jury on a stroll around the area using Google Earth?

In high-dollar (or even small dollar) cases, you can invest less than $400 for a viewer and Nexus 5 phone. For $2400, you’ve outfitted one-half of the jury with their very own device. If you’re trying to give jurors a “feel” for being there, without virtual reality

Cardboard is cool, but virtual reality is cooler

Cardboard isn’t the future of VR, but it’s inexpensive design is Google’s way of showing how virtual reality can be done cheaply and imaginatively. The experience is quite revolutionary, and the possibilities are endless. I’ll explore more of the features, functions, and possibilities as time goes on. Right now though, it’s time for another jump from Boston’s skyline.

Jeff Taylor

I'm just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I'm also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.

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