If you’re Generation Y or older, there’s a good chance you’ve used a View-Master in your childhood. Now, the old school toy returns with a new school angle.
Long before virtual reality was a thing, a toy was built to show the world through stereo photography, or 3D images. Called the “View-Master”, it was basically a small slide image viewer that would read two images taken from a left and right view point at once, and when paired, would immerse your eyes in a slightly three-dimensional world.
These images were stored in View-Master cartridges, which were basically circular pieces of cardboard holding together 14 images set in 7 pairs.
Back when we were kids, the images used in View-Masters were often about places you could travel to, or scenes from movies, and these little experiences would act as a sort of early virtual reality, even though there was no movement or momentum inside the world.
But when video games started taking over, the View-Master took a backseat, because it just couldn’t compete with the digital world.
Toy maker Mattel hasn’t given up on its gadget, though, and has been working on a way of bringing it back.
Now it’s 2015, and over 70 years later from when the original View-Master popped up in 1939, the way of bringing this toy back from the dead will be with phones.
Specifically, it will be with Android and iOS-based phones, and a special set of View-Master cartridges. There’s no paper in this cartridge, and no film. Rather, these are plastic discs with little coloured squares inside of them, and a label on the top.
When a phone is loaded in the special View-Master viewer with the app running, you’ll find an augmented reality model appearing on screen, showing up for your eyes to see.
From here, you can touch the screen by pulling down on the View-Master release trigger, which is the same style of orange release mechanism that the old View-Master used to use to skip forward.
When you pull this mechanism down, the 2015 View-Master will let you get up close and personal with a digital representation of what’s on the cartridge, and will let you see more models.