Cardboard VR

[Team Project] Immersive Virtual Reality (VR) has been shown to work as a non-pharmacological analgesic by distracting patients from their acute pain for short periods of time. However, few researchers have investigated the effectiveness of mobile “Cardboard VR” for chronic pain patients. Therefore, we would like to figure out if Cardboard VR could be a cost-effective substitute for desktop VR and what are the effectiveness and differences between these two.

[My Role] Researcher, and Game Developer


We conducted a three-phase study for this research:
(a) we first designed a mobile cardboard VR game, named Cryoblast, which shares similar game features compared to the desktop VR but with minimal functionality [1].
(b) in the second phase, the viability of the Cardboard VR was examined by comparing it to another Head-Mounted Display (HMD), the Oculus Rift (OR), a desktop HMD [2]. We mainly focused on its usability, feasibility and players’ sense of immersion levels.
(c) in the third phase, we then compared the effectiveness of pain distraction of Cryoblast and a commercial mobile VR game in both HMD and Google Cardboard with pain patients in clinical settings. A randomized crossover study was conducted in a pain clinic with 30 chronic pain patients (see below figures).


OR was found to be significantly more effective than both the Cardboard VR and the control condition. Nevertheless, the results of this study demonstrate that Mobile VR has potential to become an effective tool for managing chronic pain because it is comparatively more affordable than VR that is restricted to desktop computers, because it can be deployed in numerous contexts, and because of its ease of use.


The results indicate that the Cardboard VR, despite its simplicity and small screen size, is capable of providing an acceptable level of immersion compared to Oculus Rift’s larger screen size. Since ‘immersion’ plays an important role in VR pain distraction, knowing the level of immersion for Cardboard VR may help determine its potential as an accessible VR device for chronic pain self-management.


[1] Tong, X., Gromala, D., Amin, A., & Choo, A. (2015, September). The design of an immersive mobile virtual reality serious game in cardboard head-mounted display for pain management. In International Symposium on Pervasive Computing Paradigms for Mental Health (pp. 284-293). Springer, Cham.

[2] Amin, A., Gromala, D., Tong, X., & Shaw, C. (2016, July). Immersion in cardboard VR compared to a traditional head-mounted display. In International Conference on Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality (pp. 269-276). Springer, Cham.

[3] Amin, A. M., Tong, X., Gromala, D., & Shaw, C. D. (2017, May). Cardboard Mobile Virtual Reality as an Approach for Pain Distraction in Clinical Settings: Comparison, Exploration and Evaluation with Oculus Rift. In Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2345-2351.




Back to Projects.