Google, Mattel give us the ‘new’ View-Master

Remember View-Master? If you’re, uh, ‘younger,’ you may not, but if you’re my age you definitely will. First making an appearance around 1940, The View-Master was an odd, sort-of binocular-looking thing that had a slot in the top. into which you would insert a paper reel that had pictures of cities or illustrations for books among other things. They would have a 3-D appearance because you would view two of the fourteen images at a time, meaning each reel had seven images. By pushing down a lever, the paper reel would rotate to a new set of images. At one point it was used to train soldiers in how to identify enemy vehicles!

While it, like everything, has a collector fan base, the device fell out of popularity around 1997, although it is in the Toy Hall of Fame.

But Google and Mattel are going to try and bring it back. They have created…something. From what I can tell, they are going to be using an updated (read: plastic) version of their current Google Cardboard VR setup and you will supply a phone that fits into the device. Then, you can buy packs of four ‘reels’ that are really plug-ins for an app, look through the eyeholes, and see the content on your phone’s screen.

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard

I know it sounds complicated, and even with all the reading I’ve done I still haven’t quite figured out what they are going for here. They haven’t said exactly what form the content will take, and the video they produced raises more questions than it answers, considering it answers exactly none (I have embedded it below). If it provides actual, interesting, even interactive views of city- or story-scapes, it has real potential. The device isn’t out yet, but it will be soon, however I feel they will have to give some concrete details before people will jump in whole hog.

More about it over on ExtremeTech.