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Google and Mattel Debut Virtual Reality View-Master

Google and Mattel are dragging the iconic View-Master into the modern age, after more than 70 years of children exploring far-away locations from the couch. This fall, a new generation of kids will be able to play with an Android-based, virtual reality View-Master for $29.99.

Instead of being limited to film, the new View-Master will employ Google’s Cardboard virtual reality platform. View-Master promises 360-degree “photospheres” that will allow children and nostalgic adults to explore and interact with simulated environments such as Paris or Alcatraz. Mattel and Google envision this technology being used to take kids on virtual field trips to famous places and landmarks.

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The VR experience will feature head-mounted goggles powered by an Android smartphone, which supplies the images and audio. Through the use of stereoscopic lenses sending separate images to each eye, Mattel can deliver an immersive virtual experience with content appropriate for children.

“We developed Google Cardboard as an open platform to inspire companies like Mattel to rethink how to deliver new user experiences through technology,” said Mike Jazayeri, product director for Google Cardboard.

The best part? Now that the View-Master is free from the shackles of analog media, users can download new “experience reels” straight to their devices for $14.99 apiece. Each reel will come with four themed experiences such as nature or science. There’s no need to go to a brick-and-mortar store to buy a new experience. In fact, the sample reel features some classic View-Master images and a journey inside a space shuttle.

The only disappointing news is for iPhone users. Google Cardboard is only available for Android phones.