Introduction: Carton - DIY Smart Eyewear

Carton - Cheap Augmented Reality Tools(Obviously for Nerds)

Carton is a Do-It-Yourself SmartGlass (also called Optical Head Mounted Display, but it’s less sexy) using a mobile phone and simple materials like cardboard.

Some could easily call Carton an augmented reality headset. Its main purpose is to experience augmented reality in fun and simple way as some Cardboard did for Virtual Reality.

But be aware that Carton has been created mainly for students, researchers and young startups who want to develop some prototype around these technologies. It’s not intended to be a perfect product for end-user ;)

The construction is not that easy for anyone, and it should last around 1.5 hours if you're doing it for the first time. Also the whole creation process has been recorded.

This is an open community project, everyone are very welcome to contribute.

Do not hesitate to comment if there is something wrong or whatever.

Step 1: Tools & Material

In order to make this project very accessible, only simple (regular and inexpensive) tools and materials that we can find easily anywhere are needed.


  • Utility knife
  • Scissor
  • Ruler
  • Glue stick


  • Printed blueprint - original size/on scale (available here
  • Cardboard - 2 pieces - 104x245 and 250x206mm
  • Mirror - 60x60mm
  • Transparent plastic sheet - 105x55mm
  • Sponge -
  • Flat stir stick
  • Stretch utility strap
  • Rubber band
  • Adhesive tap
  • Double sided adhesive


Obviously you can switch some tools and material with others stuff (isn't why we love DIY?), but I tried few already, so here are some explanations:

  • Cardboard
    “Cereal box” cardboard won't make it properly, it'll be too weak. Even if I did it with probably the most regular cardboard, the strongest cardboard you'll find, and probably the best your Carton will be. Just avoid using one thicker than 3 mm, 1.5mm would be perfect. Don't forget it has to be foldable.
  • Transparent plastic sheet
    In case you want to try with some thicker plastic, indeed they look better because more robust, but the result will be blurred (or inappropriate) because Pepper's ghost effect appears twice (precisely on each side). Even 0.5mm is too thick. The best I found was 0.25mm (0.010 in). You'll probably find it in any stationary or decoration shop. Thinner (0.125mm) is obviously correct but weaker.
  • Mirror
    You can find some already the right size near the makeup department or you can also ask any glazier. If you have a bigger piece of a mirror, you can easily cut it by yourself (that how I did it first, so you can!)
    In case, you really can't find a the mirror, doesn't mind, it's optional. You can still create your Carton and have a lot of fun, they're plenty use cases without the need of the mirror module.
  • Flat stir stick
    This part is just to make the screen very flat, you can find other material easily.

Step 2: Create the Mirror Module

This module could be optional for many use cases unless you want to experience augmented reality with your camera.

  1. Paste the Mirror module blueprint to the smallest piece of cardboard
  2. Cut the cardboard, but warning:
    1. Only thinner line (not the bold)
    2. Including each small line to help fold
  3. Fold the cardboard for each arrow to the correct way(see legend)
  4. Cut thicker/bold line and remove blueprint (paper)
  5. Put mirror and fold
  6. Tape with adhesive to make sure it won't unfold

Why we fold first before cut the inside part? It's because removing theses part will make the cardboard weaker, then getting a perfect fold (straight) will be harder.

Step 3: ​Create the Screen Module

This is where the Pepper's ghost effect appears, this module is mandatory.

  1. Break (or cut) the flat stir stick to make it around 140 mm long (doesn't matter if it's longer)
  2. Tape one long side of the plastic sheet with adhesive
  3. Join the plastic sheet with the flat stir stick, the aim is to make the screen the flattest possible
  4. Cut the adhesive which exceeds the plastic sheet

Step 4: Main Module - Preparation

Here is the beginning of the Main module (the hardest and longest part)

  1. Cut only one of the Main module blueprints following the dotted line
  2. Join the newly cut blueprint with the other part, to make a full blueprint
  3. Paste the full blueprint on the last piece of cardboard (the biggest)
  4. Cut the cardboard but warning:
    1. Only and all thinner lines (not bold)
    2. Including theses to help fold
  5. Fold (at least 90°) and unfold the cardboard the correct way for each arrow (see legend)
  6. Cut the thick/bold line to the cardboard and remove each inside part

Again, folding each arrow before removing inside part is important, to make better straight fold.

Step 5: Main Module - Construction

  1. Fold each line (without unfold this time) until the arrow n°7, the aim here is to learn how to build it, help yourself with the pictures
  2. Unfold everything and take off the blueprint from the cardboard
  3. Cut the rubber band, put it at his specific location (see legend) and make a knot
  4. Fold again until arrow n°7 but this time tape some adhesive after fold n°2 and n°7 to set it
  5. Slot the cardboard after the fold arrow n°10

Step 6: Assembly

Help yourself with the pictures

  1. Insert the screen part inside the main module, there is a small hole to put the flat stir stick
  2. Finish folding n°11 and n°12 and put some adhesive, it should be fixed below
  3. Use double sided adhesive to stick the sponge on his specific location
  4. Insert Stretch utility strap on each side
  5. Insert the mirror module in the right hole, depending on the rear camera's location on your phone, if the camera is in the top center then it should be the hole closest to the sponge else the other one

Congrats! It's done, bravo! :)