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Design Your Own Virtual Reality Headset

950 reviews


Areas of Science
Time Required
Average (6-10 days)
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
  • Oculus Rift® is a registered trademark of Oculus VR, LLC.
  • PlayStation® is a registered trademark of Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe Limited.
  • Google Cardboard™ is a registered trademark of Google, Inc.
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

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Virtual reality (VR) headsets are becoming increasingly popular with consumers for things like viewing 3D pictures and videos, or for playing video games. However, dedicated gaming headsets like the Oculus Rift® and PlayStation® VR can cost hundreds of dollars. Some headsets, like Google Cardboard™, which is literally made out of folded corrugated cardboard (Figure 1), are much cheaper because they can use any smartphone as the screen.

Google VR headset made of cardboard
Figure 1. A Google Cardboard headset with a smartphone inserted as a screen.

These cheaper headsets do not have any electronics or built-in computing power—all of the processing and image rendering is done by the smartphone. This keeps the cost of the headset itself very low, but a cardboard headset can have some disadvantages. For example, cardboard might not be as durable or as comfortable as other materials like plastic or rubber, and it could be easily prone to staining from the user's sweat.

Can you do an engineering project where you either modify an existing Google Cardboard headset to improve it (a variety of headsets are available from Amazon.com), or build your own headset from scratch? See the reference in the Bibliography for official specifications and dimensions for Google Cardboard headsets, and note that you can purchase compatible lenses online. There are many ways you could improve or redesign a headset. Here are just a few suggestions:

Make sure to test and evaluate your headset by following the engineering design process. For example, you could recruit volunteers to try out your headset and see whether or not they like the new features.


The field of virtual reality is changing rapidly. Do your own background research to learn about the most up-to-date trends and technologies in virtual reality.

See this page for official specifications for Google Cardboard headsets, including a downloadable set of drawings and a "Best Practices" document:

Refer to these resources if you are not familiar with the engineering design process or how it differs from the scientific method:

icon scientific method

Ask an Expert

Do you have specific questions about your science project? Our team of volunteer scientists can help. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions, offer guidance, and help you troubleshoot.

Global Connections

The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
This project explores topics key to Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.


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General citation information is provided here. Be sure to check the formatting, including capitalization, for the method you are using and update your citation, as needed.

MLA Style

Finio, Ben. "Design Your Own Virtual Reality Headset." Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Games_p034/video-computer-games/design-your-own-virtual-reality-headset. Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

APA Style

Finio, B. (2020, November 20). Design Your Own Virtual Reality Headset. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/Games_p034/video-computer-games/design-your-own-virtual-reality-headset

Last edit date: 2020-11-20
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