Is the Future of Mobile VR within a 70-Year Old Brand?
If you are a VR enthusiast like me, and lucky enough to live in Los Angeles’ thirty-mile-zone, you hopefully attended (or tried to attend) last Saturday’s Virtual Reality Los Angeles Expo (VRLA). While I walked the show floor, I noticed something inherently different from 2015’s VRLA – no one questioned whether virtual reality was just a fad. Everyone agreed that VR has arrived (finally, I’m not a VR snake oil salesman anymore).
VRLA 2016 highlighted the growth of VR, emphasized by the over-the-top the laser light shows that filled the ceiling in the West Hall of the LA Convention Center. During the show, I checked out Starbreeze’s Walking Dead experience (again), virtual archery from Sixsense (highlighting their improved controllers), an impressive multiplayer FPS from Survios titled ‘Raw Data’, incredible stereoscopic content from Axis Images, the sweet world building game Elementerra from FreeForm Labs, and what seemed to be the smallest Oculus booth in recent memory. However, it is quite possible that most VR evangelists didn’t recognize the true victor in the industry – Mattel’s View-Master.
Mattel’s HMD is $30 dollars, cardboard compatible and is quietly infiltrating the immersive ecosystem. In fact, VR industry luminaries were out in force to promote Mattel’s 70-year old brand. Mirada’s Andrew Cochrane (one of our industry’s best and brightest) sports a View-Master at his booth, as does Janie Fitzgerald (Axis Images) and Brandon Zamel (Springbok Entertainment). Richard Broo, CEO of Wemersive, states that the “[View-Master] is the best headset for demos. It is easy to keep clean, it has fantastic lens, and it is even great for stereoscopic content on mobile (and I don’t even like stereoscopic content)”.
In the end, it is great to see the maker of some of the most beloved brands of my generation’s childhood — which includes Hot Wheels, Barbie, Masters of the Universe—building the immersive community’s preferred cardboard-compatible virtual reality headset. Heck, even Apple has it on their highly-curated store.
I sure hope Mattel’s View-Master team is aware of the natural support the industry is presenting this childhood playtime necessity. The future is virtually here and it seems an old friend is along for the ride.