In December, Google proudly announced that its innovative Cardboard VR contraption had made it into the hands of over 500,000 consumers since its introduction in mid-2014. With a price tag of $20 or less, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many enthusiasts were willing to give Google a shot with its vision of virtual reality considering that competing solutions like Samsung’s Gear VR cost $199.
Google is now taking everything that makes Cardboard great and is pairing it with a household name that many of us came to know very well as children: Mattel. Together, Google and Mattel have developed the next generation of the View-Master, a photo viewer that I spent countless hours starting through as a child. But rather than depending on cardboard reels littered with color slides that produce a simulated a 3D image, the new View-Master is going digital (for the most part).
An Android smartphone and plastic “experience reels” are used in this reinvention of the View-Master. It even retains the plastic side lever, which now allows you to “click” within your virtual world. All you have to do is download Mattel’s companion app from the Google Play Store, slide your Android smartphone into the plastic housing, and pop in an experience reel to be transported to a new 3D experience. We’re still scratching our heads as to why a physical reel is needed in this digital age; why not just make the reels an in-app purchase? Perhaps nostalgia weighed heavily on the decision…
Regardless, the View-Master will not only work with the companion app, but also with the over 200 Google Cardboard-compatible apps found in the Google Play Store.
"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 for Toy Box 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 new View-Master will launch this fall with a price tag of $29.99 and include a sample reel. Additional digital experience reels will be priced at $14.99 for a pack of four.