View-Master eyes a 21st-century update with Google Cardboard

13 Feb 2015

Image of the new View-Master via Mattel

Toy maker Mattel is looking to give its stereographic View-Master a 21st-century update after signing a deal with Google to use its Cardboard virtual reality (VR) tech in its next edition.

The View-Master has been a popular toy for over 75 years which allowed people to put in 3D slideshows into the headset that people could view a variety of topics on from history and science to pop culture and landmarks.

Now, according to USA Today, Mattel see the Google’s entry-level VR Cardboard device as the most affordable basis to turn its slides into something that far surpasses its previous incarnations.

Expected to launch this autumn at a cost of US$29.99 (€26), the new View-Master is operated just like the Cardboard in that the user needs to put an Android phone into the slot provided within the plastic View-Master and can then view a variety of different ‘slides’ with the help of a Mattel app.

The old reels that were the staple of the previous editions will return with a new function as well with the user being able to place it flat on a table and experience its contents through augmented reality (AR) that will see it come to life, which could be anything from dinosaurs to the wonders of the cosmos.

Making it more accessible

Speaking with USA Today, Mattel’s senior vice-president, Doug Wadleigh said this could even be expanded to see historic concerts from some of the biggest musicians of the last few decades including Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

“We’re creatively trying to figure out ways to use the old imagery in ways that enhance the new experience,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mike Jazayeri, product director for Google Cardboard, says that the partnership with Mattel fits in with Cardboard’s ethos, “The whole goal of Cardboard was to make immersive virtual reality experiences as accessible as possible for everyone.

“This allows you to do it in a bite-sized (way). That is the most natural way for people, particularly kids, to experience this technology today.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic