Last year at Google I/O 2014 Google introduced a new concept for smartphones called Google Cardboard. Cardboard was a simple do-it-yourself kit where you could print up instructions and make cardboard cutouts to place your phone in and experience virtual reality like never before. Since all you needed was your phone there's essentially no cost to this product, except for the lenses that are required to get the VR experience working properly. It's these lenses that have caused many a headache in making your own version of the headset, however quick entrepreneurs jumped on the bandwagon and started offering pre-made kits for around $20 to $30 online. Since then there have been a ton of different brands and styles of Cardboard to better suit your VR experience.
But cardboard probably isn't the best thing if you're letting a kid use it, as we all know kids aren't usually very careful with such fragile things, not to mention the phone that's encased in it. Thankfully Google realized this and has now teamed up with famed toy maker Mattel to create a brand new VR experience using the Google Cardboard app and technology, as well as a new augmented reality software developed by the tag-team duo of developers. This takes the famous wheels that used to be included with the classic View-Master and turns them into VR set pieces complete with the ability to delve into the little world contained on the disc and get educational information about places in the world. Just like Google Cardboard this headset works by placing a little wall between your eyes to split the screen in two, providing a true 3D experience that feels real while you're using it.
Mattel will ship the new View-Master with what it calls "experience reels," which are the little discs that contained pictures on the classic View-Master. There will be additional experience reels sold for $14.99 and will provide a whole suite of informational and educational world exploration specifically made for kids. Let's not forget that since Mattel is an expert toy maker this thing is going to be durable, so while the smartphone you place inside the unit likely isn't unbreakable the unit itself will hold it tightly so that it doesn't fall out. Mattel is planning on making this fun little gadget available this fall for $29.99, around the same price as the other cardboard versions on the web, but again with extra features and compatibility that those other units don't have. There's no specific list of supported phones just yet, and it's possible Mattel will offer different sizes to fit different phones or tablets, but we'll have to wait until closer to the release date to get those specifics. For now check out Mattel's website below and sign up for more information as it becomes available.