Google, Mattel Team Up To Revive View-Master As A VR Headset


The View-Master was first released in 1939 and was used to bring colored slides to life in 3D.

Now, Google and Mattel have teamed up to revive the classic View-Master as a virtual reality headset.

"By working with Google's Cardboard platform, we are now able to take that experience even further, bringing the discovery and immersive viewing experience of the View-Master to the digital age," said Doug Wadleigh, SVP and Global Brand General Manager at Mattel. "Combining technology and innovation with this classic toy gives kids an enhanced experience allowing for play opportunities not yet imagined through new, digitally curated content."

The View-Master actually works much the same as Google Cardboard. It fits various sizes of smartphones. Users simply have to slide their smartphone into the viewer and use the corresponding app.

Like the classic device, the View-Master also makes use of the "experience reels" that it did once upon a time. These reels work a little differently, however. Instead of slotting them into the device, users simply hold them in front of the View-Master while they look through the device.

The reels aren't totally necessary if the device can be paired with a smartphone, but as Wadleigh pointed out at a press event, kids like to collect things and being able to collect reels will satisfy this.

Interestingly enough, this is the first major update to the View-Master since it was first introduced in 1939. Even more interesting is the fact that this is not a one-off. Mattel and Google intend to continue their partnership and continue developing the device.

"We view this as just the beginning," continued Wadleigh.

The partnership may be a beneficial one for Mattel, which is starting to struggle with lines such as Barbie and Fisher-Price. The move into the high-tech world is smart for the company, with rivals Hasbro and Lego being able to continue their revenue despite the shift of kids to high-tech games such as apps on a tablet. It also sets Mattel apart.

The unveiling of the revamped toy also follows an announcement from LG for a similar product, also essentially offering a plastic version of cardboard. It is likely that more products like these will continue to pop up, filling different niches. For example, the LG headset is aimed at those with the LG G3, being calibrated for that device, while the Mattel headset is aimed specifically at kids.

Google has been a major player in the virtual reality space for the past year or so, first announcing Cardboard at Google I/O in June 2014.

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