Free Virtual Reality Is Totally Metal

When it comes to technology, adoption is everything. That’s why many of our ubiquitous devices either have cheaper versions (you can get a PC or laptop for less than $300) or subsidized versions (like smartphones, which exploded after phone carriers began bundling them “for free” with their services).

A few years ago, Facebook bought the virtual reality (VR) gaming headset Oculus Rift for $2 billion and Mark Zuckerberg called it one of the company’s most important platforms. But the $599 headset is going to be a serious buy-in, and each one needs a $1,000-plus computer system to power it. That’s a significant barrier to mass adoption.

There’s already a growing market of cheaper devices. The Samsung VR Gear is designed to use your existing smartphone as its screen (with an app controlling the display), and already retails for $99. Lenovo recently bundled a similar headset with a low-end tablet it only sells in India, and the company sold 10,000 of those mobile-VR bundles in less than a second.

But the real beginning of VR, and the real usefulness of VR in marketing today, is even cheaper.

The future is cardboard.

By that I mean Google Cardboard, a project to create a VR player for smartphones held in cheap cardboard “viewers” with glass lenses, literally a poor-man’s Samsung VR Gear. You can order one for yourself for $20 to $50.



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