Since it first debuted in the late 1930s, the View-Master has been transporting users to scenes around the world with just the flick of a lever. The technology hasn’t changed too drastically in its 77-year history—until now. Mattel has recently released their latest virtual reality model developed under the guidance of Google.
The VR View-Master should look familiar to anyone who remembers using one as a kid. It still has the classic red plastic body and an orange switch on the side to change scenes. It even includes the old-school disc-shaped reels, but the way they're used is literally out-of-the-box. Instead of inserting the reels into the View-Master, users can place them on a flat surface and look at them through the viewer. 3D icons will appear on the reels and viewers can select them to begin their virtual adventure.
Mattel is able to keep these toys relatively simple—and cheap at just $30—by relying on technology from the customers’ smartphones. After downloading the View-Master app onto their phones, users can slide their devices into their viewer. A hole in the front for the phone’s camera makes augmented reality scenes possible, and each “Experience Pack” comes with scannable passes that instruct phones which scenes to play.
These packs are currently being sold for $15, and they include collaborations with NASA, Discovery, and National Geographic. Kids can search for kangaroos in the Australian outback, and see 360 degree views from the surface of every planet in the solar system. You can buy the new View-Master today in stores or online.