With the release of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, it's a very serious few weeks for virtual reality. So it's the perfect time to lighten up with Google's latest April Fools' Day product: an all-new VR headset that truly lives up to the medium's promise. That's Google Cardboard Plastic, "the world's first actual reality headset."
Designed with "4D integrated perspective, 360-degree spatially accurate sound, 20/20 resolution, and advanced haptics for realistic touch sensations," Plastic is an elegant piece of hardware that claims to let you "notice what you do, see, and feel more than before" — because it's a clear block of plastic, obviously. As Google puts it, "what's realer than real? Probably nothing. Or maybe something! I doubt it, though. I think we're done."
If you haven't been paying close attention to the Cardboard VR headset's evolution, one of the most noteworthy changes with Plastic appears to be the addition of a head strap, something Google forbids on any approved Cardboard device. Google prefers to have people hold Cardboard partly to cut down on the nausea that VR can induce after long sessions or fast head movements, so this makes sense — although Plastic users may still want to be careful during particularly intense real reality experiences like roller coasters. (The truly adventurous can already try adding virtual reality to those as well.)
A set of "tints, patterns, and add-on accessories" are coming soon to Plastic, and if it's anything like Cardboard, we'll probably see a standard that manufacturers can use to make custom versions. Google was previously rumored to be working on some ambitious new VR hardware, likely powered by the Project Tango technology that's just starting to appear in phones. But after this surprise, it's clear we were way off base about the company's real strategy. Instead, we'll be eagerly awaiting the new gardening, skateboarding, and park-bench-sitting experiences that Plastic promises.
Verge Reviews: Oculus Rift