Ok, maybe my silly name for 360 stills that come out of Cardboard Camera. I’m a fan and think it is a good example of emulsional content. My colleague Mark Bolas’s lab is pretty much responsible for Cardboard, having presented the design and giving away examples at the 2012 IEEE VR conference (though you’d never know it from current popular press). While Cardboard has its limitations, and the NY Times app set the record for making me simSick faster than any previous app, using the cardboard camera app is very fun.

For those who haven’t experienced Cardboard Camera, the process is dead simple (and why it is so great). On my Nexus 5x phone I open the cardboard camera app, shoot a 360 degree panorama still (we’re used to shooting panoramas on phones). Then after some quick processing, you hit the cardboard logo (in the same app – this is key), pop the phone in the viewer and viola – you have an immersive capture of the environment. While there are commercial applications, for me this is a “killer app” as the resulting 360 is much more evocative in cardboard than a single still photo or even a pano photo could be. As an added bonus, the app captures ambient sound which greatly adds to the effect.


It isn’t super high fidelity, and there is no video. But you don’t need it, and the power is in the simplicity of the process and end product and the human provides the motion, engaging their body in the process. It doesn’t try too hard, and then it over-delivers.

The power in this is that it provides the human a compelling representation of a space where an experience took place. The story is embedded in the human brain, but the immersion of the image and ambient sound helps bring it back. Hence the bivalence, and binding of digital to analog.