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Mattel’s new virtual-reality headset is a modern take on a classic toy
When in doubt, add VR.
Readers of a certain age will likely remember the View-Master, a toy that you held up to your eyes to view specially formatted slides that came on cardboard discs. You could advance the slides with the push of a button. Click, you’re in Disneyland. Click, you’re looking at the Space Needle.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Mattel is giving the View-Master a 21st-century makeover, reimagining it as a reasonably priced virtual-reality toy for kids. Here’s what the finished product will look like when it comes to market later this year:
The wearer will have his or her eyes locked out of reality, staring into goggles that can replicate any one of a number of environments—from Alcatraz prison to “underwater adventure”—thanks to totally reinvented cardboard discs, which are now called “experience reels” in Mattel parlance.
Right now, this product still only exists in concept form. When Mattel visited USA Today to show off what they’d been working on, they were using Google Cardboard, the foldable cardboard pattern that turns into a head-hugging virtual-reality mount for any smartphone.
Mattel produced a promotional video showing off what you’d actually see if you were to strap one of these on your head.
The redesigned View-Master headset will cost $29.99. It comes with a sample reel, and you’ll be able to buy other reels for $14.99 each.
Dylan Love is an editorial consultant and journalist whose reporting interests include emergent technology, digital media, and Russian language and culture. He is a former staff writer for the Daily Dot, and his work has been published by Business Insider, International Business Times, Men's Journal, and the Next Web.