Watching the rapid evolution of VR technology in recent years has been pretty fascinating. Both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now available for preorder, but as we’ve pointed out before, Google has shipped millions of Google Cardboard viewers. While the Cardboard experience is (obviously) nowhere near as good as what the Rift or Vive can offer, the accessibility is comparatively totally off the charts. Most people already have a smartphone capable of running Cardboard VR games and apps, they’re just missing the actual set of plastic lenses and the folded up cardboard to bring the whole experience together. Surprisingly enough, that’s where McDonalds comes in.
McDonalds locations in Sweden are kicking off a promotion called Happy Goggles. As the above video shows, the iconic red cardboard Happy Meal boxes are going to come packed with the lens kit and clever perforations in the box itself to carefully punch out and fold up your own Google Cardboard-like VR headset. The Happy Googles site mentions this is being tested in Sweden, but they hope to roll out the promotion to other countries soon.
It’s crazy to think that it could be promotions like this that take virtual reality mainstream. No one is ever going to be able to argue that a greasy folded up McDonalds box is going to rival the experience of the Vive or Rift, but consumers have shown time and time again that price and accessibility are king when it comes to adopting new technology. It’s difficult to think that many “mainstream" consumers are going to gravitate towards a $600-$800 headset they need to pay with a $1,500+ PC over using a smartphone they already have and a cardboard setup they got for free through a promotion like this.
I guess you could argue that these viewers could be a gateway setup to consumers investing heavily into “real" VR, but it feels like even then the next logical step seems to be a bit more robust mobile device headset like the Galaxy Gear or many other higher quality plastic Google Cardboard-like setups. Either way, it’s pretty insane to think back to the basic prized included in Happy Meals when I was a kid to today, where you get a pair of VR goggles instead.
The future is weird.