Google Cardboard: virtual reality Open Days

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard looks set to be a big game-changer for universities.

Cardboard allows users to turn their smartphones into virtual reality headsets. You simply cue up one of the many Cardboard apps, slot your phone into the front of a Cardboard viewer (the basic Knox One is pictured below) and then enjoy being immersed in a 360 video.

The videos play around you on all sides, meaning that you can turn your head and look at whatever interests you. For example, one video is a documentary about New York and you can look side-to-side, upwards and behind, to look at whichever buildings take your fancy.

Some of these videos are interactive too. One of the standard-issue videos with the original Cardboard app features a tour of the Palace of Versailles. You simply pull the trigger on the side of the device as a way of ‘clicking’ and this allows you to walk through whichever door you are currently staring at.

Until the more sophisticated Oculus Rift technology arrives in the UK, Cardboard is the next best thing. It is simple and affordable virtual reality. You already have a smartphone, the apps are free and the basic headset is just $23.95 (or you can make your own for less).

Instructions to assemble

So, why should universities take an interest in Google Cardboard?

Quite simply, Cardboard will revolutionise Open Days.

We all know Open Days are becoming increasingly important, yet many international students cannot attend because they live on the other side of the planet. With Cardboard, you could offer an interactive 360-degree video of your campus, so international students could experience the Open Day without needing to board a plane.

UK students might find this useful too. They would no longer need to hitch a lift with Mum and Dad. They could visit multiple Open Days using their Cardboard viewer in the space of a few hours, saving their family petrol and avoiding various feuds with the Sat Nav.

Google Cardboard

Open Days are just one use for Google Cardboard. There are plenty of other possibilities aside from student recruitment:

  • Alumni could revisit and reconnect with the university at their own convenience.
  • Schools could visit the campus for Outreach activity without the hassle of organising coaches and worrying about headcounts every five minutes.
  • Current students would no longer need to pay for costly field trips. The lecturer could go overseas and film a Cardboard video and the students could experience the same location by using the app.
  • Small workshops or experiments could also be turned into Cardboard videos. This would allow each student a ‘front row seat’ through their viewer. Much better than cramming hundreds of students into a laboratory.

Google is encouraging organisations to develop their own Cardboard videos. The relevant tech-speak for developers can be found on their website so creation of the videos is as straightforward as possible.

Shooting an immersive 360 video will require one of the Jump cameras pictured below, which enable all directions to be filmed at once. This will fast become the must-have purchase for universities nearing the end of the financial year.Jump camera rig

Google Cardboard is cutting-edge technology and universities should be giving this serious thought. Much has recently been invested in virtual Open Day platforms but it is already time to go one step further.

It is time for the first virtual reality Open Day. Which university will be first?

Simon Fairbanks

Simon Fairbanks

Simon Fairbanks is the Undergraduate Marketing Manager for the College of Arts and Law at the University of Birmingham. He has been working in Higher Education since 2011. Simon is a self-published author and has written several books. You can read more about his writing projects at www.simonfairbanks.com.

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