On November 8th, 2015 the New York Times partnered with Google distributed over 1.3 million Google Cardboard’s to their print subscribers intended to kick-off the VR generation of news. In conjunction with the distribution of the Cardboard the New York Times rolled out their iPhone and Android app NYT VR. Available on the Apple App Store and on the Google Play store for few the app lets user dive into immersive 360 storytelling immediately full of content and documentary style stories. Nearly a year later on November 1st, 2016, the Times announced their next level of 360 video immersion by introducing Daily 360, where they hoped to present 1 VR video experience each day based on the news the day before or the current day hosted both online and within this NYT VR app on the phone.

Design and Features: The NYT VR app features a simple and easy to use feed of stories and content. A scrolling time of the most popular and newest videos. With the new Daily 360 feed at the top with the option to see the last week and beyond of daily content. Each story is presented with a image and brief description intended to draw in the viewer and to allow for them to select what video they are looking for.

Once a specific video is selected the video opens with the description, an option to read more with links to the written story that accompanies it. After selecting to view the video you are prompted with two options, to download or stream the video. Once the download is complete, there are two options for viewing the video, Cardboard or 360.

Selecting Google Cardboard allows you to watch the two lenses through the cardboard device while selecting 360 allows for full screen mobility to move around the video by moving your phone.

Pros: The application makes it simple to use and find videos in 360 and ease of use once you select the video. It features great quality and good audio in a seamless approach to presenting 360 video. It mixes still photos from the story with external links to the written article and the ability to share what you watch on social media and beyond.

Cons:  Though the app is great and is easy to use a couple major flaws are also apparent. Each time you view a video and close the app or the story you are forced to re-download the video. For those users on data or offline it makes it near impossible to watch the video or to continuously use the app. While there is a large amount of content they haven’t accumulated lot of quite yet and is lacking content on a wide scale and you spend a lot of time looking for something that is not there.

Overall: A general consensus across the board was that this app was successful and a great tool for the readers of the NYT. Many readers were shocked to learn VR was easily accessible without the expensive viewing devices and I think this app has opened viewer’s eyes to that. The goal seems to be for the Times to get all the content in reader’s/viewer’s hands and hope the content does the rest of the work. From that standpoint and goal, the NYT VR app is a home-run, now to let the content to the rest of the job.

InCell VR Game on iOS


InCell VR is an action/racing game mixed with strategy and bio science, which is taken place in a micro world of the carefully recreated human cell. You are brought into the virtual world/cell and are tasked with outrunning viruses, exploring the cell and saving the cell from destruction. InCell is free on the Apple App Store, and was created by: NIVAL Inc. Currently, it is offered only in English, and it is compatible with iOS 8.0 and above. 


  1. Price: The game InCell is free-to-play. Anyone can obtain the App with their Apple product. Such as: iPhone, iPad and iPod/iTouch. The game is 199 MB.
  2. Comfortability: Virtual Reality games are sometimes hard to use because of the constant motion of what is happening in the game. It can be hard to keep track of everything in the game, but InCell does a great job of keeping the motion sickness away. Also, if the game becomes too much, or you don’t have your VR headset with you, you can play it normally by turning the VR mode off.
  3. Graphics and Sound: Out of all the VR games I have tried on iOS, InCell’s graphics are spectacular for a mobile game. The sound also is fantastic. It makes the VR experience that much better.
  4. Concept: The games concept and story is something out of the ordinary. You are emerged into a cell, and you have to protect the cell from viruses, and attacks. The strategy/racing style is different, but works great.


  1. Difficulty: InCell is a fun, but challenging game. It is not a game you can easily skip through without coming up against any challenges.
  2. Battery Life: As do most mobile games, InCell takes up a hefty chunk of battery life from your phone. Playing for about 20 – 30 mins can result up to 10 – 15% of your battery life taken.
  3. Storage: The game also takes up 200 Mb of storage to download, so downloading without WiFi will hurt. Also, if your phone doesn’t have a lot of free storage then 200 MB could hurt you.


My experience with InCell was great. I enjoyed the hybrid gameplay of exploring/tasks it prompted you with. I have played other VR games on iOS, but this one takes the cake. The sound and graphics were awesome for a mobile game, and it was entertaining. There were some times when I got frustrated at the game for failing to complete certain things, but games should challenge you. I think that is what makes game fun to play. The motion of the game wasn’t too much to handle. Overall, the game was well put together unlike a lot of VR games on the AppStore. NIVAL Inc. definitely took there time on this game.


After playing and reviewing the game, I give InCell a 4.5 out of 5. I enjoyed the game a ton, but the drain of battery and storage wasn’t to my liking. In the future I believe most VR games for mobile phones will have a reduced storage cost, and hopefully battery cost, but for VR still being new, NIVAL Inc. did an excellent job.

On the AppStore, 50+ users rated it 4.5 stars our of 5 on all versions, but after the newest patch, 1.4, it has received eleven 5 star reviews.



The pictures used in this post were from the Apple AppStore 


Google Cardboard Review

By Matt Wickstrom

For beginners venturing into the world of virtual reality, Google’s Cardboard is a useful and practical tool for getting one’s feet wet with the new technology without shelling out hundreds of dollars for a top-of-the-line headset such as Oculus Rift.

The viewer, made of literal cardboard, can be purchased directly from Google and other online retailers such as Amazon. Many third-party companies also make unofficial and modified viewers, but for the sake of this review we’ll focus on Google’s product, which has been dispersed freely to many students and others as an educational tool via the New York Times and other outlets. Google’s standard Cardboard device comes in at an affordable $15 and includes access to Google’s free Cardboard mobile app, granting access to countless free virtual reality experiences, albeit rather basic.


While Google’s Cardboard is cheap and easy to use, it lacks much of the basic functionalities found in other similarly priced, or slightly pricier, headsets. A major drawback of Cardboard is its lack of a head strap, in turn requiring the user to hold the viewer to the face with one of their hands, lowering the level of immersion in the experience along with tiring one’s arm out.

As far as the Cardboard app goes, while there’s countless experiences to explore, most are very short and involve very little observation with the environment from the user. Most, such as a roller coaster sim, confine the user in a fixed space to look around in, but not move their position directly, leaving other devices, in this case a roller coaster, to do the navigating for them.

Instructions for Use

As previously mentioned, using Cardboard is extremely easy and straight-forward. Accompanying your newly-ordered device are directions from Google illustrating how to hold your Cardboard device, almost like a puzzle, until it’s constructed into what resembles a viewer. Next, simply slide your smart phone into the viewing slot and place the viewer to your face, diving into a simulation.

Users can exit and pause simulations by tilting their viewer vertically out of its traditional horizontal viewing orientation, and more virtual reality experiences and apps can be easily downloaded from Google Play and other services.

Real-world Uses

While Google’s Cardboard is rather primitive as a means of viewing virtual reality, it’s affordability and easy accessibility makes it a great tool in the scope of education and as an introductory means to virtual reality. I could see Cardboard being used in schools to educate kids on biology, science, geography and more. In a more professional sense, I could see Cardboard being used to help train doctors in certain surgical situations and in pushing medical advancements.

Overall, the Cardboard is in the bargain bin of virtual reality products, but nevertheless serve as an essential tool for the growth of the technology in the sense of getting more people involved and intrigued in virtual reality and in terms of growing on the experiences already provided to improve the technology in the future.

Discovery VR

As I’m sure you could guess, Discovery VR is an application created by Discovery Communications, the same company that runs the Discovery Channel.  It is a free product available to both iPhone and Android users through their respective app stores.

The primary function of this app is to help you explore the world through the virtual reality lens by creating and hosting loads of 360 video experiences and narratives. These include anything from seeing how kinetic energy recharges a car battery to hanging out with some playful pups in the Puppy Bowl or even getting a tour through a moonshine distillery! So whether your interests are in meeting grizzly bears face to face or in exploring a haunted mansion, this application definitely has some videos that will pique your interest. When I began using the application, I intended to watch a few videos to get a feel for it before finding myself 3 hours later still engrossed in a video about a man who has a very intimate relationship with some wild lions in Africa. While this should tell you how incredible and well produced these videos are, I must also present the disappointing news that some (perhaps even a lot) of this time period was spent dealing with the app crashing and having to take my phone in and out of the headset to change videos. While the actual videos and interface are beautiful and easy to access, there are clearly some bugs still lurking that need to be dealt with in order to take this app to the next level and make it truly great. As well as dealing with the crashes that interrupt and ruin immersion, adding a feature that would allow the user to select a new video using their gaze would greatly improve the user experience. Right now the hassle of removing the phone, selecting the video and then putting it back into the headset makes watching more than a few videos an annoying process. However, on the positive side, the app does currently proceed to the next video on the list, so as long as you don’t mind the topic you can continue watching without removing your phone.

This application has the potential to be a great introduction to VR and 360 video for those who are new to the genre. With its ease of use and interesting content, it is an attractive prospect for those curious about the world of VR. I also think that as VR becomes more mainstream and popular, applications like this one will absolutely have a place in our education system. Allowing kids to see the animals and places they are learning about in school up close and personal has the potential to completely revolutionize the learning process and inspire them to explore subjects that they previously would never have known existed. Overall, this app offers its user incredible experiences that they would not have access to otherwise and for that, I think it is worth continuing to use until the bugs have been cleared up.

Link to iTunes Download:


Link to Android Download:


HTC Vive Review

The HTC Vive was introduced at HTC’s Mobile World Congress keynote in March 2015 and was finally released on April 5, 2016. Phil Chen, Chief Content Officer for HTC, founded the HTC Vive. HTC paired with Valve, an entertainment software and technology company, to produce Vive. The Vive can be ordered online at https://www.vive.com/uk/ for £759.00 (British pounds), which is equivalent to $932.78 in US Dollars. The bundle, which includes a Vive Ready computer, the Vive VR headset and controls, a USB drive with hardware setup instructions, required software including The Lab by Valve and theBlu:Encounter by WeVR, can be purchased online for £1,399 plus free shipping. This is the equivalent to $1719.31 in US Dollars. Valve and HTC have announced that the headset will be free for selected developers.

The Vive is designed to immerse people in the VR world. The room that you are in disappears and you are transported to the world of your choice. There is a front-facing camera on the headset that blends the real world settings with the virtual world. The 110-degree field of view immerses viewers into their virtual world. There are 32 headset sensors that track motion through 360 degrees. The headset is combined withtwo controllers, one for each hand. These controllers help you explore the virtual world and make selections within the game as well as serve as your tools within the games. Whether they serve as a bow and arrow or simply extensions of your hands, the controllers receive real-time haptic feedback that further contributes to your VR experience. You get the chance to freely roam and explore your VR world and participate in a variety of activities by clicking the buttons on your controls and then following the actions needed for the game that you choose to participate in. You are truly transported to another place through this experience.


Immersion: The most outstanding pro of the HTC Vive would be the complete immersion in another world. The feeling you get is so real, and it makes you forget that the outside world is there, especially if you invest in the audio headset that cancels out the outside noise around you.

Photo by David Stephenson

Comfort: The headset has a comfortable fit around your head, and it is easily adjustable. The controls also have a natural grip, so it is easy and natural feeling to hold them and use them as an extension of your hands.

Variety: There are a number of games and activities that you can take part in while using the Vive software. Whether it be archery, launching explosives, or simply exploring different environments, the variety is there.


Price: Many people would love to experience the HTC Vive, but are unable to do so because of the steep price. The only reason I got to experience it was because of this Virtual Reality class that I am in. Without the class, I would have never gotten the chance to experience this technology.


I see this technology being used mostly for gaming purposes, but it definitely has the potential for other uses. The HTC Vive could potentially be used for medical purposes like exploring the human body and even virtually practicing surgeries before performing them in real life. It could also be used for military training by immersing soldiers in training in a virtual world that could better prepare them for the environment of the battlefield. The possibilities are truly endless. All it takes is an idea, and a software could potentially be made to meet that need. For now, it’s mostly gaming, but the potential of the future of the HTC Vive is unknown.