The retro-styled View-Master is back — and this time it's been fused with virtual reality. View-Master maker Mattel has announced that it's partnered with Google to create a new version of the device that utilizes the company's Cardboard VR tech.
The original View-Master utilized a small, colorful reel, which users placed in the device to see images with a 3D effect. For the VR version, you'll need a smartphone running a custom Mattel app to recreate the effect (the device will also work with any other Cardboard-compatible app for more traditional VR experiences). The reels will still exist, however, and will be sold separately to provide different experiences, like giving you a view of Alcatraz or other iconic locations like a space shuttle. Mattel calls these scenarios "360 degree photospheres." According to USA Today, the device primarily uses augmented reality and simple animations to create an immersive experience.
Mattel might also be dipping into its huge library of classic View-Master reels, which include licensed content like Star Wars, for the new device. "We're creatively trying to figure out ways to use the old imagery in ways that enhance the new experience," Mattel senior vice president Doug Wadleigh told USA Today. Google, meanwhile, sees the new device as a way to bring VR to a younger audience, with Google Cardboard product director Mike Jazayeri explaining that the View-Master is a way "to make immersive virtual reality experiences as accessible as possible for everyone."
The new device isn't expected to ship until the fall. The unit will retail for $29.99, while additional reels will come in packs of four for $14.99.