Google is partnering with major toy maker Mattel to reinvent the View-Master for a new generation - and to continue supporting the Google Cardboard virtual reality platform. According to a post on CNET today, the two companies have announced their intention to bring the old-school toy back to shelves, powered by the Google Cardboard software.
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.
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The moon landing simulation was less elaborate, and consisted of two computer-generated views of the moon linked by similar markers. Obviously Mattel and Google couldn't send Street View cameras to the moon, so a recreation made sense. The scene showed the lunar lander and the American flag along with the gray surface of the moon and the blackness of space.
The dinosaur content was the simplest, offering another computer-generated view of prehistoric Earth with a few dinosaurs around me. Markers brought up text boxes that gave information about dinosaurs, like the information boxes in the Alcatraz tour.
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Set for release this October, the new View-Master is essentially going to have a similar build to that of the Samsung Gear VR or - more aptly - the recently announced VR for G3 from LG. Users will slide a compatible Android phone into the headset, and activate the appropriate app. The familiar View-Master discs - or "experience wheels," which at one time provided the stereoscopic slides that kids would click through for 3D images - will instead offer a kind of augmented reality tour of various locations or themes - at least, that's what this sizzle promo seems to be promising.
Anyway, the new View-Master will cost $30 (approx Rs. 1,862) when it comes out in the fall and a pack of three reels will go for $15 (approx Rs. 931). The software and the reels will be compatible with Google Cardboard and Cardboard apps will work with the View-Master.