Friday, 22 May 2015

How Many Of Us Have Owned,

or had a friend that had one of these?

do you remember the View-Master? a plastic toy you held up to your face, stuck cardboard reels into and advanced through 3D images of landscapes, animals and cartoons with the satisfying pull on a lever, I call it a toy but in the 1940s, the United States military recognised the potential for using View-Master products for personnel training, purchasing 100,000 viewers and nearly six million reels from 1942 to the end of World War II, well it has now changed and has been reintroduced,

 it's back and Mattel has Google to thank for helping drag the classic toy into the 21st century, the main piece is an update to the iconic red-bodied View-Master that looks a little bit like a Fisher-Price take on the Oculus Rift, the orange lever is still there, albeit in a more compact form, and the front is dominated by a black, branded piece of plastic, but rather than stationary slide, you insert a smartphone into the plastic body which, when paired with the View-Master app and a View-Master 'experience reel,' lets you experience 360-degree worlds, photosphere and educational 'field trips,' there will even be bonus content such as historical footage, photos and behind the scenes video that you can access by clicking on icons hovering around objects, people and landmarks in the virtual world,the View-Master experience reels are a little different from the slide reels you're used to, instead of inserting them into the View-Master itself, you place them in front of you while you look through the device, icons representing different experiences then pop out of the reel as augmented reality navigational aids, the reels are purely optional, kids can simply download content directly from the app if they so wish, but, as Doug Wadleigh of Mattel told the press at an event today, kids still like to collect things, and having physical reels to collect will satisfy that urge, it should also help placate older fans who have spent lifetimes collecting slide reels,

the whole experience is built around Google's Cardboard, a simple and affordable VR platform that uses an Android smartphone as the heart of the device, as we've learned, Cardboard is not some half-hearted hobby project from Mountain View, it's the earnest starting point for the company's virtual reality ambitions, that also means that you don't necessarily need to buy Mattel's $30 View-Master to get the same experience, though, seeing as how that price gets you a sample experience reel and the plastic viewer that should be more durable than a version actually built of cardboard, if you don't already own a viewer this would seem like a good value, the viewer will start to be sold sometime in October, but the big question is will this new View-Master have what it takes to drag kids away from their computer screens?

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