M52_Cover_LoRez

Read articles from the magazine right here on Make:. Don’t have a subscription yet? Get one today. On the cover: NASA’s JPL is using VR tech to create the next Mars rover. Illustration by Viktor Koen.

We have an upcoming issue of the magazine that has a section focusing on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. During one of our meetings, where we discuss the angles we’ll take, topics we’ll cover, visuals we’ll want, and other aspects of the magazine, this crazy idea appeared by accident.

What I heard was something like this:

“what about an editable Google Cardboard?” – Editor 1

Edible Google Cardboard? That sounds awesome!” – Editor 2 (most likely James Burke)

Of course I hear this and think, “I can do that, and now I have to!”

I was immediately picturing something like a gingerbread house. Basically, I thought I’d use graham crackers and icing to construct the frame; I would only need lenses to complete the experience.

The Rules

Half of the fun in my projects are my self-imposed rules. These are the limitations I set for one reason or another that limit the scope of the project. Without them I’d never complete things, and to be really honest with myself, dealing with the limitations is possibly more fun than the project itself sometimes.

In this case, I had a very short amount of time before I had to have all the photography done for the magazine (yes this is going into the magazine). I also wanted this to be as honest as possible. If I tell you this is edible… it is edible. There’s no trickery here.

Lenses

Right off the bat I realized that there was going to be a problem. I was going to have to allow a concession to the edible rule in the interest of the time limitation. Basically, I didn’t think I could make edible lenses in the amount of time I had.

My initial thoughts were to order some lenses. These biconvex lenses will work perfectly for google cardboard. Just make sure that they’re lined up with your eyes fairly well and about 45mm away from the screen and you’re good. Really, it isn’t more complicated than that when dealing with google cardboard style VR. (it gets more complicated when you want to go up to things similar to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive).

I was going to order those lenses and make a mold, then experiment with sugar glass and gelatin to get an edible lens. I’m still fairly certain I could get something that would technically work, though it would be cruddy. However, I just didn’t have the time. I amended my “everything edible” rule to be “everything but the lenses must be edible”

The structure

Graham crackers are interesting building blocks. They’re a bit brittle and crumbly, but a bit of icing applied to two large surface areas, which are pressed together firmly, holds pretty well. I recorded my entire build, simply placing things where I thought they should go. It looked as though it was going to work wonderfully.

in pieces, in my lap

version 1, in pieces in my lap

When I picked it up the first time, it fell completely apart into pieces in my lap.

I wasn’t going to give up though. I started over, trying to use large overlapping segments as much as possible. Version 2 held together when I picked it up! I then decorated it and turned on the camera to capture footage of me using it! You can’t really tell in the video, but this thing actually worked. I could look all around and, aside from the icing getting on my face, it was pretty much the same as my google cardboard.

The edibleness

During the construction of this project, I kept wondering what would make this video amusing. How would people know it was edible and that I didn’t just hot-glue my stuff together? Ultimately I decided to just eat the whole thing on camera. I wish I had thought of this at the beginning, because I had been snacking on all the extra bits that I would break off as I shaped pieces. I had been gorging myself on little icing and graham cracker sandwiches all morning before the time came to chow down on the real thing.

eVr preview

It will be a long time before I want graham crackers and icing again.