Quick & dirty prototyping with Google Cardboard

You want to use VR. But you want it to be quick. And you don’t have time to learn new systems. Read on.

So what’s the deal?

At Common Good, we’re working on a project with the NHS to improve the experience of donating blood. In the midst of our project, we came to the point where we wanted to test the impact of color on donors and staff.

There is a plethora of sources that detail how color impacts our lives. From products to hospitals, color psychology affects the perception and usability of a space. Various theories suggest general color themes to influence how users feel (“warm blues,” “cool whites”), but the specific color values and subsequent applications depend on the idiosyncrasies of the space and lighting (natural, fluorescent, halogen, etc). Ultimately, any palette must be tested.

There are plenty of examples of design firms prototyping spaces. gravitytank tested a food concept by building a restaurant line out of foam core. IDEO built a full-scale versions of exam rooms when redesigning a hospital. BUT these kinds of prototypes require a large investment in time and resources. What is the “paper prototype” equivalent for a space?

One solution is to create virtual reality environments for Google Cardboard. VR allows for quickly altering environments to see how those colors affect people’s mood or behavior. We can immerse a user in a “space” in a way that mood boards can’t.

So…. imagine yourself in this space…. ok, now… how do you feel?

Let’s get making!

First, the Tools of the Trade

This is what I used, and will be using for this little tutorial.

  • Photoshop
  • Google Cardboard
  • iPhone
  • Apps: Google Street View, RoundMe

1) Take a photo with Google Street View

Take a panoramic of your space using Google Street View. The app makes taking a photosphere super easy. Just open it up and follow the orange dots. It may take a few tries to get it right.

Look! It’s my living room!

Download the photos and import to your computer. Google street view makes it a bit tricky for iPhone users, but go to the private tab. Tap the photo you want, select the share button, and choose ‘share privately’. This should send you to options to email, text, download, etc.

You see me scrollin’… and savin’

2) Edit in Photoshop

Load up your image into Photoshop and make any edits that you want to test out. I took a shot of the Common Good office and tried out a few different wall colors.

Be sure to export your final product as a JPEG.

Trying all of the colours!

3) Publish in RoundMe

Sign up for a RoundMe account. It’s an easy way to publish and show panoramic views. Drag and drop your JPEG to upload.

4) Open up and view

Download and open the RoundMe app. Navigate to your account and select your scene. Tilt your phone to landscape, tap the Google Cardboard icon, and pop it into your physical Google Cardboard. Voila! You have an immersive environment to test your space out. Congrats!

Our office in pink. Flattering color, no?

Here are a few versions of the Common Good office you can check out.


Limitations

This is a quick and dirty prototype method. As you can see in my final result, the quality of the photosphere capture depends on how consistent you are at shooting. In my case, you’ll see that there are breaks where the photos merge. As with most things, the more time you put into it, the better the result will be.

Jeez, who took this photo anyways?

Thanks for reading. Holla at me via twitter at @mindyclee if you have questions or if you want to share your method of quick prototyping!