Can Google make Mattel's View-Master cool again?
On Thursday, Mattel and Google sent out a press invitation titled, “view what is possible.” Many are speculating the old-school toy is about to get a virtual-reality update.
It seems more and more inappropriate to refer to Google as a “search engine” giant as the company expands its reach into an ever-increasing number of fields.
The invite featured what appeared to be an old-school slide for Mattel’s View-Master offering a clue to what the companies are up to. (For all of you born with a tablet in hand, View-Master is a binocular-shaped toy used to view slides.)
The unveiling will take place on the morning of Friday, Feb. 13, a day before the annual North American International Toy Fair.
Many are speculating that the new product will be a hybrid of the Mattel View-Master and Google Cardboard headset/app to create a new approach to virtual reality.
Google released the Cardboard app last year, which is an extension of the street view of Google Maps. The feature is a sort of virtual reality, which essentially allows users to virtually roam the streets of a given location. Google also sells a headset made of literal cardboard that allows users to place a smart phone at one end and peer through eyeholes to make the experience more realistic.
Google has been looking to turn Cardboard into a viable competitor in the expanding virtual reality market. Considering the headset already resembles a View-Master, it makes sense that the company would partner with Mattel to find a way to stand out. The giant will face stiff competition from Samsung’s Milk VR, Sony’s Project Morpheus, Facebook’s Oculus, and the much anticipated Microsoft HoloLens.
Meanwhile, Mattel has struggled to find its footing in an increasingly tech-centric world. As CNET reports, the maker of Barbie and Fischer-Price Toys has remained stagnant compared to its rivals, Hasbro and Lego, who have been able to see growth in sales despite the popularity of games on smart devices.
After 76 years on the market, it looks like the View-Master may be getting a high-tech makeover for the 21 century. We'll find out Feb. 13.