Creative technology agency Knit has developed a range of NFC-enabled Cardboard Objects that are designed to fit inside a modified version of Google’s Cardboard virtual reality (VR) headset to let users view “relevant app-based content” using real world objects.
“An NFC-tagged postcard could be placed on the headset to let a holidaymaker see what a holiday resort is like before buying, or a cardboard key could let someone go on a virtual tour of a new car,” Knit explains. “All the user has to do is switch on the NFC feature of their smartphone, put it in the headset and insert the cardboard object into the headset, the technology does the rest.”
The DIY Google Cardboard headset, unveiled at Google’s I/O conference in June 2014, includes an NFC tag for connecting the device to a user’s mobile phone, and is made from a corrugated cardboard sheet, two plastic lenses, a neodymium ring magnet, two strips of Velcro and a rubber band.
Knit has designed four Cardboard Object concepts. As well as the postcards and keys, there are trading cards for collectible objects that form part of a game and character objects that allow new digital characters to be unlocked within games. A video shows the Cardboard Objects in action:
“Currently, the apps for Cardboard offer a limited experience that lasts one to five minutes,” the company says. “By adding a collectible element, the Cardboard Objects have the potential to extend this use cycle by making multiple objects available for a single app.”
“We were intrigued by the Google Cardboard platform and challenged ourselves to make something that interacts with it in a new way,” says Jack Chalkley, creative technologist at Knit. “The low-cost, cardboard construction meant that modifying the device is easy and relatively low-cost.
“We settled on the idea of additional objects that could be attached to the device to give new experiences in the VR environment. This expands on the current interactions currently limited to panning around the environment and the single magnet-switch on the side.”
“After the initial hype surrounding VR, the launch of Oculus Rift and now Google Cardboard has been a game changer,” adds Nick Thompson, founding partner at Knit. “VR has become refined, usable and affordable to the masses. VR now offers brands the opportunity to truly immerse the consumer in the product and brand experiences.”