Poppy co-founders Joe Heitzeberg and Ethan Lowry at CES back in January.
Poppy co-founders Joe Heitzeberg and Ethan Lowry at CES back in January.

When Google unveiled its own do-it-yourself cardboard virtual reality headset at the I/O conference on Wednesday, Joe Heitzeberg and Ethan Lowry were bombarded with messages.

That’s because the Seattle entrepreneurs have a similar product in Poppy, a 3D imaging device for iPhones. People wondered whether Google Cardboard infringed on Poppy, or if Heitzeberg and Lowry were involved in some way.

But the founders say Google is not infringing on anything Poppy-related, nor did they participate in its production. Rather, they call the cardboard contraption that uses low-cost lenses to turn Android devices in 3D-viewers, “brilliant.”

Google's Cardboard headset, fully assembled
Google’s Cardboard headset, fully assembled

“It gives millions of people a cost-effective means of experiencing virtual reality and 3D content,” Heitzeberg told GeekWire.

But Heitzeberg noted a few differences between his product and Google Cardboard. While Google’s product allows for 3D-viewing, Poppy does that and more — it lets users record video and take still images in full 3D.

Regardless, Heitzeberg and Lowry said they’re excited to try out Cardboard.

“We can’t wait to get our hands on one,” Heitzeberg said.

Lowry is best known as one of the co-creators of Urbanspoon, the popular restaurant recommendation app, while Heitzeberg worked at companies such as SnapVine, MediaPiston and Whitepages.

The pair got Poppy off the ground with a strong crowdfunding campaign last summer — raising more than $190,000, well past the original goal of just $40,000. The $59.95 device allows the iPhone to be used for capturing and viewing 3D images and video  — a View-Master 2.0, as we’ve called it.

Google Cardboard, on the other hand, was labeled as an “old school view-finder” by Gizmodo.

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