Cardboard is a low-cost virtual reality (VR) headset that transforms an ordinary smartphone into an immersive media viewer. It arrives flat packed in a protective, mailable sleeve. Tearing it open to reveals a flattened viewer. Inserting numbered tabs into corresponding slots yields a little box that wows when a smartphone is inserted.

Both Cardboard and its protective sleeve are die cut from a single piece of cardboard—it’s simple to manufacture industrially and easy for people to replicate and construct at home. We made the design templates and all the materials freely available on the internet, which spawned a whole cottage industry of inexpensive VR viewers.

Cardboard’s design is as ingenious as it is economical. Two magnets on the left side create a delightful and magical sliding input that requires no physical or electronic connection to the phone. An NFC sticker launches the Cardboard app automatically as soon as a device is inserted. A humble rubber band keeps the phone from sliding around.

Cardboard stands out among VR viewers—it’s simple, it’s clever, and it’s accessible, as conveyed by its distinctive cardboard box aesthetic. Cardboard is VR for everybody.

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