Google is partnering with Mattel to reboot the iconic View-Master stereoscopic 3D photo viewing device. Instead of static photos with circular film reels, however, the new View-Master offers an immersive digital experience that puts people inside 360° “photospheres.”
The original View-Master first hit the market in 1939, less than five years after Kodachrome color film arrived and transformed the photo industry. More recently, Google had been working on its 360-degree panorama service called Photo Spheres and a phone-powered virtual reality device called Google Cardboard.
Due to the similarities of these products, this new partnership between Mattel (the current owner of the View-Master) and Google is a perfect match.
The new View-Master is a cheap and simple device that lets users go on “field trips,” visiting “famous places, landmarks, nature, planets and more” through 360-degree virtual reality photospheres.
There will still be circular reels, but instead of physical photos, they will instead be digital “experience reels.” After inserting your smartphone with the View-Master app into the View-Master device, you place an experience reel in front of you to start using it.
Here’s a short animation showing how the system will work:
The new View-Master will be available in the fall of 2015 for $30 for a viewer and a sample experience reel. Additional experience reels will cost $15 for a pack of 4 themed reels.