Mattel is rekindling interest its classic View-Master toy brand by incorporating virtual reality.
The company today announced a collaboration with Google to make a new View-Master based on the Google Cardboard platform. It still uses those memorable picture discs with the squares around the edge like the old View-Master, but not in a way you might expect.
The new View-Master is a smartphone holder with lenses that separate the inserted device’s screen into two images for the user. While it’s a Google Cardboard device, it’s actually a plastic headset that looks very similar to the classic View-Master, if it was crossed with a Samsung Gear VR.
The View-Master works with all Google Cardboard-compatible VR apps on the Google Play store, including a Mattel-specific View-Master app planned for the device. It won’t rely entirely on app downloads, though. Mattel has reimagined the View-Master picture discs as augmented-reality markers and downloadable content tokens. Instead of inserting them into the View-Master, they can be placed on a flat surface and the View-Master app will scan them and load content into the View-Master, using the discs as positional anchors.
The plastic View-Master device Mattel had on display at a Friday press event was a mock-up, but the company set up demos of the app and the picture discs with conventional Google Cardboard setups. I tried three programs on the device: a tour of Alcatraz, a virtual look at dinosaurs, and a view of the moon landing.
The Alcatraz tour was the most elaborate of the demos. It was a series of photo-spheres that gave me a first-person view of the ferry station to Alcatraz and several locations within the prison itself, based on 360-degree photos similar to those taken for Google Street View. Every view had markers shaped like View-Master picture discs that brought up text boxes giving information about the prison or advanced the tour to the next location. Because the tour was based on photo-spheres, it was very immersive and felt like a natural progression of the original View-Master slides.
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SOURCE: PC Mag, Will Greenwald