Mattel has launched a new version of its classic toy, the View-Master, that works with smartphones and apps to create virtual-reality and augmented-reality experiences.
Here’s a video that shows how it works.
You buy the new View-Master Starter Pack and one or more Experience Packs. Then you can download a View-Master Experience from your app store onto your Android or iPhone. From there, it’s just a matter of snapping your smartphone into your shiny new View-Master and enjoying one of the “blended reality” experiences.
So far, three Experience Packs are available: Space, Destinations, and Wildlife. Space lets you do things like explore star maps or go to other planets and virtually stand on their surfaces. Destinations shows you cities and landmarks. And Wildlife is a partnership with National Geographic that delivers virtual experiences observing wildlife in exotic locales like an African savanna, the Amazon, and the Australian Outback.
The Experience Packs come with discs, but the discs don’t go into your View-Master (as in the old days). Instead. you set the discs on on a table, point your smartphone-enabled View-Master at a disc, and then select the experience you want.
We’ve written before about how Google Expeditions is introducing virtual reality field trips into selected classrooms. The Mattel View-Master is compatible with that program as well.
The View-Master Starter Pack costs around $30, and each Experience Pack costs around $15. It’s recommended for kids 7 and up.