Step into the world of VR

GADGET: Flying Tiger Virtual Reality Goggles

TECH SPECS: VR headset following Google Cardboard specification; most suitable for smartphones with 5.5 inch screen

PRICE: 3 euros (Rs 250) in Flying Tiger stores

BEST FOR: Enjoying 3D videos on your smartphone

The budget was tight and I had to buy a gadget for my son. That was when I spotted the trinket store Flying Tiger in a corner of Hamburg airport. The Danish store ( https://flyingtiger.com) turned out to be a virtual goldmine for euro-strapped dads like me.

Browsing the shelves, a stack of Google Cardboard style virtual reality (VR) headsets caught my eye. The price tag read: 3 euros; less than an ice cream cone. Sceptically I opened the fold-out-cardboard viewer, clicked on an appropriate YouTube video and peered into it. Well, it offered a near-perfect 360 degree view of marine life in the Great Barrier Reef.

Google Cardboard is the cheapest VR set innovated by two Google engineers -David Coz and Damien Harry - that can turn your smartphone into a 3D viewing gadget. The app splits a phone's display into two and the goggles' lenses project a slightly different view for each eye, helping the brain process the 360 degree view.

Google launched it to "bring immersive experiences to everyone in a simple and affordable way".

The best thing is that Google has not branded or patented the stuff. You can fold your own VR set with some cardboard and a bit of DIY skill or buy a Works with Google Cardboard certified viewer.

I have wished to make a DIY viewer ever since I got to know about it but I didn't have the tech glasses. Now, Flying Tiger's VR goggles come at the price of the glasses. Considering the cost, they are brilliant. Be sure to hold onto your phone though (especially if it has a screen smaller than 5.5 inches), as the fit is not very tight.

With the maker's Littlstar app (free on App Store or Google Play), I was able to swim with sharks, travel to space and go a round with a WBA Welterweight champ. The InMind app allowed me to journey into a patient's brain in search of diseased neurons. And with the New York Times' NYT VR app, I got a peek into a generous collection of news and documentaries. The 11-minute The Displaced and 5-minute Vigils in Paris were mindboggling. .

Just one small grouse: they should have included a head strap. Holding it more than five minutes makes the hand hurt. But it is more than value for money. And happily, I bought four sets - for my son and his three nerd friends. They showed around their little boxes of magic. Little wonder I am the most popular dad in my son's friend circle now.


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