Mattel and Google are trying to bring the 75-year-old View-Master into the 21st century – with some help from smartphones and virtual-reality technology.
The original View-Masters gave people a chance to click through colorful photos by inserting reels into the viewing devices.
Targeted at families, the updated View-Master has users insert a smartphone into a headset. A smartphone app will enable the gadget to immerse kids in a slew of virtual worlds, from far-off cities to outer space. The new View-Masters will be priced at about $30.
Mattel Inc. and Google Inc. unveiled the virtual-reality viewer Friday at Mattel’s New York City office. The device launches in the fall, but the companies had no finished product to show off.
But Mattel demonstrated the technology using Google Cardboard, a cardboard attachment that turns smartphones into virtual-reality viewers. Reels won’t be necessary for the new View-Master, but they will enhance the experience. In a demo, there were reels for San Francisco and outer space. Pointing your headset at one and clicking a button on the side of the headset took you into each of the worlds. A set of four reels will cost $15.
The original View-Master launched at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Mattel says it has sold more than 100 million of them.
The new version will launch on Android devices first, but the companies plan to make it available on all platforms down the line.