Google Cardboard and New York Times

Like many, I got a “free” Google Cardboard device with my Sunday New York Times yesterday.

“Free” because it was sponsored by — my wife tells me — a mini-car company who just happens to have a free VR experience or two you can run with the Cardboard.  Like they say, if you’re not the customer you’re the product.

In any case, great gift.  I immediately set it up and downloaded the NYT VR app and the Syrian refugee VR experience to my Android phone.

Good thing I’m a tech lover.  It was hard to find the VR app and it took a long time to download the experience.

Then we had to scrounge around for headphones (I don’t usually use them with my phone), fit the whole thing into the Cardboard, and disable the screen saver on my phone.

When I was at Intuit years ago we used to estimate that every extra click in a web app lost 20% of your audience.  So: 80%, 64%, 51%.

Setting up the experiment with the Syrian experience was like that.  Each step would have buffaloed a non-tech user or someone who didn’t have a clear vision of the endgame.

When I did get it set up it was pretty cool.  I didn’t try the roller-coaster app because I didn’t know it existed until I tuned into my CTO Club listserv later in the day.

And I couldn’t think of what to do about the sad fact that both my wife and I have pretty close-set eyes and the spacing of the Cardboard meant there was a big gap between how the VR was meant to look and how it looked to us.  Not as bad as watching a 3d movie without the glasses, but bad enough that we wouldn’t recommend it to a friend.  Hurts their NPS.

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