Today I went to Asha in the morning for a couple of hours and did this DIY-like workshop with three students to make our own Google Cardboard Viewer. I spent my time there working with Santosh (a first year college student and also ex-Asha student), Dhiraj (a grade 11 student) and Komal (a grade 9 student). Making the viewer was something that Santosh wanted to do himself, and he had mentioned this to me even before I had talked about the VR project myself. Santosh needed my help to locate resources online that would help him make his own viewer for free. He was also struggling with finding the right lens, and did not know where he could buy or make one. After discussing logistics, and doing some research online, all of us did the following work today.
We first got hold of some cardboard boxes. There was an old table fan box lying around, and Dhiraj also asked Shravan to get some Dominos Pizza boxes, since Shravan worked at Dominos part-time as a pizza delivery boy. We used tape, fevicol liquid glue, scissors and a knife cutter – all of which was readily available at Asha. We printed out the Cardboard template from the Google VR website, and then used a couple of tutorials from Instructables to make the viewer. Unfortunately, we struggled with some issues in the morning – figuring out the correct dimensions, making errors in our cutting and pasting, getting dimensions incorrect multiple times, managing our limited cardboard availability, and other things – and were unable to make a finished product in 90 minutes. All of us were quite disappointed, but we decided to call it a day and try again over the course of the week. Here are pictures from the morning.
Later in the afternoon, my Whatsapp was flooded with messages from both Digvijay and Santosh – “Bhaiya, how is this?” “See what we did. How does this look?” – followed by all these images.
Santosh told me that he and Komal continued working on the device for the entire afternoon and made two models of the viewer successfully! They used the same online resources that I had pulled up on the local computer, and also did some googling whenever they had questions. They refrained from asking me anything (I had told them to Whatsapp or call me if they had any questions.) because they wanted this to be a surprise – and it definitely was one! The three of them pushed ahead despite hitting some roadblocks, and they finally prepared one viewer.
Regarding the lens – we found this Instructables tutorial on how to make your own lens using a plastic bottle and some water. We started making this, but we soon realized that this was going to be very difficult. The plastic casing needs to be filled with water (no air bubbles!) so that the lens can perfectly magnify images. Santosh told me he’d work on doing this tomorrow, though. I’ve also looked into ordering lenses online – and I’ve shipped three pairs of 25mm lenses just to test if it fits into the viewer that the students made today.
The students inspire me more and more every day! The only things I did today were – getting them excited about being able to build a virtual reality headset for free out of scrap, showing them a couple of online resources, and helping them get started with the cutting and pasting – and that was all the effort it took from my side for them to make the entire product on their own, even after I had ‘given up’ for the day and left for home. I thoroughly enjoyed today and had a wonderful experience with the students.