Mattel’s View-Master reborn as kid-friendly, Android phone-powered VR headset

It’ll even work with augmented reality discs that create virtual worlds through the lenses

As teased earlier this week, Mattel and Google have teamed up to reimagine the classic View-Master for a new generation. And while circular reels are still involved, everything else is totally new.

The new View-Master is indeed based on Cardboard, Google’s smartphone-centric, do-it-yourself VR platform, and it requires a compatible Android phone and app to function. The phone slides into the plastic shell and powers the experience.

Despite the high-tech upgrade, the View-Master still interacts with familiar-looking reels - but not in the way you might expect. Instead of docking one into the headset, you’ll lay it flat on a table and view it through the headset via the phone camera. Doing so creates a 3D virtual world atop the physical reel, almost akin to the augmented reality cards that come with the Nintendo 3DS.

And that’s not all. Within each world are a number of spots to explore, and focusing in on one brings up a 360-degree scene to explore by looking all around you. The example video above shows a reel based on San Francisco that lets you view the Golden Gate bridge or look around the Alcatraz prison yard, complete with learning opportunities baked in.

It looks and sounds super cool, and Mattel plans to tap into its vast library of past reels - more than 10,000 of them released during 75 years of View-Master’s existence - to create new experiences for users. And it’s fully compatible with other Cardboard apps, so if you want a sturdy, retro-cool replacement for your homemade headset, it can fill that role.

Mattel says the new View-Master will be out late this year at a price of US$30 (about £19) for the headset and a reel. Additional reels will be sold in three-packs for $15 (£10).

[Source: View-Master via USA Today]

READ MORE: Google and Mattel tease View-Master revival