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Cardboard Cousins (5 useful cardboard objects of the past)

It's basic but it doesn't have to be boring. In the not-so-distant past, a piece of cardboard provided us loads of practicality and entertainment.

With all the possibilities offered by Google Cardboard, we'd be hard-pressed to see the lowly cardboard as only good for carrying pizza (which isn't a shabby purpose at all!). Let's take a closer look at five of the Cardboard kit's ancestors to know how they were made into handy gadgets and other fun stuff.

1. Pinhole camera

Basically, cameras are just closed containers with a small hole that create images based on light. No wonder a small cardboard box made for a nifty pinhole camera for many a crafty kid (and adult!). Building this basic camera from scratch and taking pictures with it is an undeniably fulfilling experience.

Your Cardboard kit is made from the same humble material and offers the same kind of fulfillment, but with more possibilities. For instance, apps like the 3D Camera for Google Cardboard allow you to capture images in 3D with just a simple tap of the screen.

2. Binoculars and 3D glasses

I can see you                                                      Photo: Rob via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Homemade paper or cardboard binoculars are typical adventure instruments for kids. All it takes are two cardboard toilet paper tubes, string, markers, and other basic tools. And when it comes to a solar eclipse and 3D films, there's nothing like a piece of flat cardboard and some red and blue cellophane to really help you see the majesty! This particular technology, also known as anaglyph glasses, was really the first to utilize 3D imagery.

Today, your Cardboard kit and your smartphone are the very tools that enable you to experience virtual reality. The lenses are similar to a binoculars', but the possibilities of virtual reality? Well, let's just say they go beyond viewing solar eclipses and seeing images pop.

3. Music media dock

Cardboard boxes have long been seen as temporary solutions for storage, insulation, padding, and protection. Even before someone actually designed a cardboard dock for small gadgets like MP3 players and smartphones, the humble cardboard has been used countless times as makeshift holders for cassette tapes, records, CDs, and other musical media.

Today, your Cardboard kit enables you to try musical apps like the Paul McCartney and Jack White virtual reality videos, and fully enjoy their music as you would in a concert. We're looking forward to more music-based Cardboard apps very soon!

4. File box

At some point in our lives, we've used a cardboard box to store our files. It's a reliable catchall for school papers, instruction manuals, receipts, and other important papers we need to keep track of. Now, with apps like Google Street View, you no longer need bulky paper maps to make your way around places. We're predicting more storage apps that keep our files safe, provide hands-free instructions, help with research, and basically make life hassle-free will be available in the coming months.

5. Adventure vessel

As a throwback to a more imaginative, innovative time for kids, flattened pieces of cardboard boxes were often used as sleds, and bigger ones as cars and trucks. Add a few marker drawings to depict windows, doors, and tires, and you're ready to roll! With your Cardboard kit ready and a few select apps like the Volvo Reality and the Roller Coaster VR, you can let your imagination run full throttle with a virtual reality test drive or a heart-stopping ride.

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