February 17, 2015
Mattel has announced a partnership with Google to revive the toymaker’s iconic View-Master device. In place of cardboard discs with stereoscopic images, the updated toy will incorporate the View-Master app on a user’s mobile phone and deliver a true virtual reality experience. The technology used for the View-Master is identical to that which powers Google Cardboard, and like Cardboard, the View-Master was designed to make VR affordable. The View-Master will retail for $30 and be available later this year.
The original View-Master, created by the Sawyer company, dates back to 1939. The View-Master’s technology however, has become somewhat archaic in today’s digital age.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the updated “View-Master will work with a custom Mattel app, as well as any app compatible with Google’s low-end virtual reality headset, Cardboard.”
Wired reports that the View-Master is yet another way Google plans to reach a younger demographic. After all, Mattel designed the View-Master for children ages seven and older.
Mattel’s approach to virtual reality is to provide an affordable alternative to the expensive Oculus Rift. According to Wired, Doug Wadleigh, senior vice president of global brands at Mattel, said the company’s “goal with the View-Master brand [is] to make virtual reality accessible, easy to use, entertaining, educational, and family friendly.”
Wired suggests that the toy may grow to become a viable educational tool with its 360 projections of iconic destinations across the world paired with informative text.
Mattel indicates it plans to add gaming features to the View-Master and make it compatible for use with different mobile devices in addition to Google’s Android smartphones.