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'VR' For Kids: Google, Mattel Resurrect Iconic View-Master With Google Cardboard

The View-Master, first introduced back in 1939 and one of the most iconic toys of the 20th century, gave users a way of viewing slides that was more realistic than any regular photograph. Mattel has a long history of selling View-Masters, but because of the advancement of technology, it's become a relic.

Now, Google and Mattel have teamed up to produce a new version for the 21st century.

This new View-Master uses a plastic version of Cardboard, Google's cheap version of a VR kit. You slot a smartphone into the end of the device and then hold the headset against your eyes. Using a View-Master application, and what is being called an "experience reel," users will be able to see a 360-degree image.

Unlike the film reels used in the old View-Master, the experience reels are placed in front of the user and does not go inside the device. The user simply looks at the reel, and then the 3D images will come onto the display of the smartphone and can be viewed. You don't actually need the reels, though. You can simply download the files straight to your smartphone, but the reels do add an extra layer of fun for children who might enjoy collecting them.

With this device, Mattel hopes to bring virtual reality to users on a budget who can't afford alternative options like Oculus Rift, or even Samsung's Gear VR. For kids, it's a neat little introduction to the world of VR, or at least into Mattel's version of VR, with the added fun of tying it to an old and popular toy.

Mattel plans to sell the View-Master for $30, and the experience reels are available for a price of $15 for a set of four.

Apple users who wish to use the device will need to hold off a little longer, as currently, the application is only available on Android, but Mattel is working on an iOS version.

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  • santiago7245
    can it play Crysis?
    Reply
  • bit_user
    Wouldn't it cause eye strain to focus on something just an inch or two away from your eyeballs? Or does the housing actually include any optics to shift the focal plane?
    Reply
  • therealduckofdeath
    Wouldn't it cause eye strain to focus on something just an inch or two away from your eyeballs? Or does the housing actually include any optics to shift the focal plane?
    It wouldn't work without optics... :D
    Reply
  • bit_user
    15295375 said:
    It wouldn't work without optics... :D
    I didn't realize Google Cardboard had lenses, but I now see it does.

    I'd like to know more about the AR features of this product. It can't be anything very fancy, unless they restrict it to more recent / higher-spec phones than most kids are likely to have.

    On that note, I also wonder what are the minimum HW specs for the phone.

    Update: I must have read about AR support elsewhere, as I don't see it mentioned in this article. Also, in the photo, there doesn't seem to be a hole for the phone's camera.
    Reply