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.


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:

While it would be easy to dismiss the new View-Master as a kid-friendly novelty and nothing more, it’s actually going to be a mass-produced, highly polished virtual reality headset that’ll be compatible with a number of Android phones – the Nexus 5 almost certainly, as the promotional images seem to suggest. That’s significant because, as of now, the only real Google Cardboard headsets you can buy are made by third-parties, and are made, well, of cardboard. The fact that they can be made cheaply is nice, but they simply don’t provide a particularly finished experience. This View-Master device, however, could be the first in a series of user-friendly VR headsets powered by Google’s Cardboard app ecosystem.

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No word just yet on pricing or a specific release date, but it’s an extremely exciting development. Hopefully this won’t be the last such announcement related to a consumer-friendly Google Cardboard headset. And if nothing else, that new 3D exploration experience looks really, really cool. I’ll buy one – will you?

[Sources: CNET, View-Master]

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