Can’t afford a fancy set of virtual reality goggles? These days, you don’t need them to have virtual reality experience. Using Cardboard, an inexpensive (ranging from $5 to $25 depending on the model) cardboard shell with attached lenses, you can turn almost any cell phone into a virtual reality viewer.
What really makes Cardboard cool is the amazing array of apps that have been designed to work with it. Some of them are just for fun (there’s no shortage of games) but many are also full of highly educational content, allowing you to learn about people, places, and events, past and present, in a completely immersive environment. Here are a few apps you can try out to enrich your educational experience while trying out some seriously cool tech.
What better place to start experiencing Cardboard than with the device’s own app? You can take in some fun demo experiences that show you just what Cardboard can do, as well as flying around in Google Earth, tour historic locations, or even find more educational and adventurous apps to try in the future. Android | iOS
It should come as no surprise that Google-owned YouTube is an early VR video provider. All 360 degree content on YouTube is accessible right through the general YouTube app—Android users can view any video via Cardboard (it converts anything not already in a 360 view) while those with iOS can, as of this writing, only access videos shot in 360 degrees. Android | iOS
This app curates a number of beautifully shot 3-D 360-degree videos, taken from feature films and documentaries. You’ll find both entertainment (music videos, video game previews) and educational content (stories from the New York Times), and with more VR content being shot all the time, offerings are sure to expand over time. Android | iOS
Want to experience the news like you’re really there? This application from the New York Times lets you do just that. The stories told through the app are not always easy to hear or see, especially those from refugee children and Parisian residents struggling in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2015, but they will give you a new perspective and understanding on the issues. Android | iOS
Created by Google employee David Quaid, this application allows you to view historical stereoscopic images from the Boston Public Library and the New York Public Library. Viewers can flip between shots, zoom in, use voice search and gain a new appreciation for the beauty of stereoscopic imagery. Android | Not Available for iOS
Lost in the Kismet
While Lost in the Kismet is a game, it’s one meant to test your problem solving skills and give your brain a bit of a workout. The problem you’re trying to solve? You’re trapped and need to escape. There are various objects in the room that may prove useful (or not) as you try to get out and figure out just what is going on. Android | Not Available for iOS
Titans of Space
Your Cardboard can take you on a guided tour of the planets, moons, and stars using this astronomy application. You’ll learn about each planet and moon as well as getting a chance to compare their sizes, with accompanying narration helping you learn as you travel from the center of our solar system outward. Android | Not Available for iOS
Using Orbulus, you can see what it’d be like to walk on Mars, watch fireworks in Hong Kong, or explore the Salt Flats, making a great tool for adding a little something extra to your geography or astronomy courses. Android | iOS
Polar Sea 360⁰
You can watch Polar Sea 360⁰ in a traditional format (it’s a 10 part television series) but why not experience it in virtual reality instead? Travel with sailors, scientists, and hunters to explore the Northwest Passage, with breathtaking 360-degree views of the Arctic tundra and seas taken from helicopters, snowmobiles and boats. Android | iOS
Whether you’re learning about Maccu Pichu, trying to figure out if a college campus is right for you, or just wanting to explore far flung places around the world, YouVisit VR lets you get a 360-degree view, just like you were really there. Android | iOS