A new feature released by Google allows users to use the dirt-cheap Google Cardboard virtual reality "headset" to work with the Street View function of Google Maps and take a virtual reality tour of different locations around the world.
The new feature in the app for Google Maps transforms Street View into Google Cardboard View, which allows users to walk in places in full virtual reality mode as if they were really there.
Users who wish to take advantage of the feature will first need to make sure that the apps for Google Cardboard and Google Maps have been updated. Users can then launch Google Maps and choose a location that has the Street View option available. By double-tapping the Look Around button located in the lower-right corner of the app, the view will be switched to the stereoscopic, side-by-side images required for Google Cardboard to properly function.
Users that are thinking of trying this feature out but have no Google Cardboard "headset" yet can make their own. The only materials needed are rubber bands, Velcro, lenses, magnets and cardboard, and the instructions are available online. Users that don't think they're crafty enough can also choose to purchase one of the several brands of pre-made headsets, such as the I Am Cardboard for $20 and the Dodo Case for $22.
Google has not yet released the list of locations that have the virtual reality feature enabled, though the example at Google Cardboard's Google+ post revealing the "Easter Egg" uses the Burj Khalifa of Dubai. Google has also not specified whether the feature will also be arriving for the iOS version of the Google Maps app.
The new virtual reality feature of Google Maps looks like a ready-to-play toy for the Gear VR of Samsung, which is a VR headset worth $200 that uses the display of the Galaxy Note 4. However, without the $200 headset that requires a $300 smartphone, users can still take a virtual reality tour of other places using Google Cardboard.
The popularity of Google Cardboard has steadily risen, and as such Google has added a page dedicated to Google Cardboard on the Google Play Store. The page lists the best and most recent apps compatible with the cardboard headset, including an app for the Live and Let Die concert of Paul McCartney, an app that ties to the new movie in the Hobbit series, and Lamper, which could be the best game for Google Cardboard so far.