Modernizing the Next-Generation View-Master
Designing a new virtual reality case for an iconic toy
Relaunch View-Master with a focus on a branded line of physical cases for an ecosystem of VR apps.
A new View-Master case that accommodates a full range of mobile devices, and allows interacting with the screens via capacitive touch while paying homage to the original toy.
Remember your first View-Master? The sound and feel of that iconic camera-snapping motion, the excitement of seeing those vivid images in the form of your own personal slideshow? Introduced in 1939, this stereoscopic toy brought beautiful landscapes and famous attractions to the eyes of kids around the world.
Flash-forward more than 75 years, and the View-Master has been reincarnated to spark that same sense of wonder for the digital age. The redesigned model, the result of a project collaboration between IDEO and Mattel, is a modern case that bridges technology with play. The new View-Master preserves the classic features of the original toy, such as the original lever and wheel, but offers a much more immersive, 360-degree virtual experience.
Here’s how it works: Download the View-Master app and slide a smartphone into the sleek new red-and-white headset. From there, the phone’s camera will scan the QR codes on the reels to view a wide variety of images, such as wildlife, outer space, and a dinosaur landscape. Two slightly different images are displayed side by side on the device's screen. As each of your eyes looks at just the image directly in front of it and tries to reconcile it with what the other eye is seeing, a 3D effect is created. By moving your head around with the viewer over your eyes and taking advantage of the sensors within your phone to sense direction and position, you can travel through each of the scenes, exploring each of the different settings.
After working alongside Mattel to understand the heritage of the View-Master brand, researching the potential for VR and play, and exploring a variety of materials for the new device, designers created several prototypes that they tested with their core market: kids. As a result, the final design accounted for things like whether it could pass a drop-test or fit into kids’ hands.
Beyond the joy of pure play, the technology that powers the new View-Master also opens up a new world of possibilities for learning. Imagine turning a page in a textbook and seeing dinosaurs come to life. Or a virtual tour of an art museum through a set of View-Masters.
"We view this as just the beginning," said Doug Wadleigh, a Mattel executive, in an interview with CNET. "Obviously, we're getting in this space pretty early. The goal is to create the View-Master brand for the next 75 years."