Last week Mattel revealed an upcoming press conference in which it would announce a new project in partnership with Google. Taking place in New York City, USA, he event’s announcement heavily suggested that the toy maker was bringing back its popular View-Master product, possibly as a new virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD). Today it’s been confirmed to be exactly that, as Mattel has announced the new View-Master, utilising Google’s popular Cardboard smartphone-based HMD concept.
The new View-Master is a plastic HMD that runs with a user’s Android smartphone as a display and head-tracking solution for VR experiences. While it’s capable of running apps that have already been released for Google Cardboard itself, it also supports a brand new Mattel app. Intriguingly, the device will still utilise the concept of reels that were used with the original product to view 3D images. Now these reels can be placed on a surface, with the smartphone’s camera registering it and transporting the viewer to new locations using augmented reality (AR).
Crucially, the new View-Master will cost just $29.99 USD when it launches in autumn 2015. The unit will include a sample reel, with additional packs of three reels going on sale for $14.99. A video showcasing the concept can be seen below. In the clip a user places a reel of San Francisco on the table, using the kit’s camera to look at certain areas and be virtually transported to them. It’s not clear if the more in-depth areas will switch from AR to VR at this point, although the first-person view in the video suggests as much.
Does Mattel have the new major VR HMD in the View-Master? The device certainly has a lot of interesting applications. VRFocus will continue to follow the View-Master closely, reporting back with any further updates on it.