Your Childhood View-Master is Back With a Virtual Reality Update

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. 

[h/t: Gizmodo]

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Tulane University Offers Free Semester to Students Affected by Hurricane Maria
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As Puerto Rico continues to assess the damage left by Hurricane Maria last month, one American institution is offering displaced residents some long-term hope. Tulane University in New Orleans is waiving next semester’s tuition fees for students enrolled at Puerto Rican colleges prior to the storm, Forbes reports.

From now until November 1, students whose studies were disrupted by Maria can apply for one of the limited spots still open for Tulane’s spring semester. And while guests won’t be required to pay Tulane's fees, they will still be asked to pay tuition to their home universities as Puerto Rico rebuilds. Students from other islands recovering from this year’s hurricane season, like St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are also welcome to submit applications.

Tulane knows all too well the importance of community support in the wake of disaster. The campus was closed for all of the 2005 fall semester as New Orleans dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. During that time, schools around the world opened their doors to Tulane students who were displaced. The university wrote in a blog post, “It’s now our turn to pay it forward and assist students in need.”

Students looking to study as guests at Tulane this spring can fill out this form to apply.

[h/t Forbes]

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Pablo, a Groundbreaking New BBC Series, Teaches Kids About Autism
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Autism spectrum disorder affects one in 68 kids in the U.S., but there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the nature of the condition and what it feels like to have it. As BuzzFeed reports, a new British children’s program aims to teach viewers about autism while showing kids on the spectrum characters and stories to which they can relate.

Pablo, which premiered on the BBC’s kids’ network CBeebies earlier this month, follows a 5-year-old boy as he navigates life with autism. The show uses two mediums: At the start of an episode, Pablo is played by a live actor and faces everyday scenarios, like feeling overstimulated by a noisy birthday party. When he’s working out the conflict in his head, Pablo is depicted as an animated doodle accompanied by animal friends like Noa the dinosaur and Llama the llama.

Each character illustrates a different facet of autism spectrum disorder: Noa loves problem-solving but has trouble reading facial expression, while Llama notices small details and likes repeating words she hears. On top of demonstrating the diversity of autism onscreen, the show depends on individuals with autism behind the scenes as well. Writers with autism contribute to the scripts and all of the characters are voiced by people with autism.

“It’s more than television,” the show’s creator Gráinne McGuinness said in a short documentary about the series. “It’s a movement that seeks to build awareness internationally about what it might be like to see the world from the perspective of someone with autism.”

Pablo can be watched in the UK on CBeebies or globally on the network's website.

[h/t BuzzFeed]


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