Why it matters: A quick check over on the Google Store reveals that the $15 viewer is no longer available for purchase. Third-party solutions are still on sale from outlets like Amazon and eBay if you absolutely must have one, but really, it’s hard to envision a future where cardboard viewers will be popular again. They served their purpose of helping to spread the word about modern VR and are probably best left in the past.
Oculus is widely credited with jumpstarting the modern virtual reality movement but several other companies have played an integral role in getting to where we are today.
Google did its part nearly seven years ago with the introduction of a low-cost virtual reality viewer called Cardboard. The device, quite literally constructed of cardboard, allowed people to slide their mobile phones into a slot in the front of the viewer, thus creating a makeshift VR headset for not a lot of money.
Google Cardboard led to the creation of the Daydream platform in 2016, but it would be short-lived. Less than three years after launch, Google discontinued Daydream. Shortly after, the search giant decided to open source Cardboard. At that point, the writing was on the wall, but Cardboard remained available… until now.
Image courtesy Alexandru Nika