The View-Master Reimagined

This article originally appeared on Newegg's Unscrambled blog.

Children have been playing with the View-Master for over 75 years. The toy’s thin cardboard disks introduced many of us to 3D and, if you were like a lot of kids, the View-Master was also the most advanced technology inside your toy box. But as advanced as these stereoscopic 3D images on Kodachrome color film were during our childhood, nobody could have predicted what the View-Master would become today.

Especially now that a different type of cardboard is involved.

Unlike anything that has come before

Mattel’s newest version of the View-Master still features the same iconic red color but has one major difference: it no longer relies on a cardboard disk. Instead, the new View-Master works with Google Cardboard and promises to deliver an immersive digital experience that every kid will love.

“By working with Google’s Cardboard platform, we are now able to bring the discovery and immersive viewing experience of the View-Master to the digital age. 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.”

-Doug Wadleigh, SVP and Global Brand General Manager, Toy Box at Mattel

View-Master disks are still required but are now paired with an Android application that enables kids to go on field trips using Google’s 360 degree ‘photospehere’ feature. Mattel is retaining the toy’s kid-friendly interface that provides an interactive learning experience unlike any of us have ever seen. All it requires is an Android smartphone.

Google Cardboard makes the View-Master simple, fun, and inexpensive

cardboard

Google developed Cardboard to inspire companies like Mattel to reimagine user experiences. The new View-Master is the first example of how Google’s virtual reality headset can transform our previous experiences into new realities. And it accomplishes this without costing a lot of money.

Available fall 2015, the updated View-Master will retail for $29.99 and be many people’s introduction to virtual reality. Mattel is including a “sample experience reel” with each View-Master with additional reel packs available for $14.99. No other virtual reality experience has been this affordable and it will likely usher in a new era of toys that could shape our future.

Mattel believes the View-Master will be an integral tool in teaching children about nature, geography, and science. The company is also curating new experience reels to provide different subject offerings. And if Google has their way, the View-Master will also be the catalyst that encourages developers to create new Google Cardboard experiences.

Google Cardboard will bring virtual reality to the masses

Some people considered Google Cardboard to be a joke response to the popularity of the Oculus Rift. After all, how good of a virtual reality experience can a folded-up piece of cardboard provide? How is it even possible?

The answer is simple: it’s only as good as your imagination.

Just like the original View-Finder inspired us as children to use our imaginations, Google Cardboard asks us to do the same. And just like there were dozens of disks to pick and choose from, the Play Store is now filling up with Cardboard apps that deliver different types of virtual reality experiences.

Currently, there are Google Cardboard apps for playing video games, driving cars, watching concerts, and much more. Google also has a dedicated Cardboard website for developers that makes it easy to create new virtual reality apps. The new version of the View-Finder may become the first Google Cardboard success story, but it definitely won’t be the last.

More than just a toy

When the View-Master system launched in 1939 it featured the most advanced technology that was possible. And as this technology improved over the years, so did the toy. The fact that the View-Master is now incorporating the Google Cardboard virtual reality experience into its design just means it has never stopped improving.

It also means the View-Master isn’t “just a toy” anymore.