View-Master and Virtual Reality going mainstream

View-Master is a very old application of one of the basic principles of virtual reality – by providing a separate images for each eye, a convincing 3-dimensional experience can be created.

Wireframe rendering of a very old View-MasterIn its newest incarnation, the “View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer” goes digital. And instead of having to buy little discs containing the content (again, way ahead of its time, at the time), you can plug it into your smartphone.

Here’s an article about the new View-Master Virtual Reality Viewer 2.0, coming out this fall:

On the one hand, it always tickles me to see that 3D technology really is hitting the mainstream. And when Mattel releases a technology, ready to be used by children – that strongly suggests that this technology is moving out of the fringes and into the mainstream.

But one thing that really tickles me about this, is that it is the View-Master™ brand. View-Master™ and me, we go waaay back. When I was wee, longer ago than I’d like to admit, my Grandparents had an old bakelite viewmaster and a big box full of discs that I would play with.

Many years later, I inherited that old View-Master™. And when I was experimenting with writing 3D rendering engines in browser-java in 1997 – I created a 3D, stereoscopic model of the thing that would show in the big browser of the day – Netscape 3.

Here’s a screenshot of what that looks like:

screenshot of old applet which renders a stereoscopic view-master viewer

Note the odd contradiction here – I’m using a different old-fashioned technology (red-and-blue 3D glasses) than the thing represented in the model uses. Totally different approach – same net result.

And if you want to try the real thing – it’s still there – but you’ll not only need the Java plugin working, you’ll need to grant an exception in your Java security settings. There simply was no security involved with Java 1.0.2. Like it says at the bottom of the page – Updated November 17, 1997! )

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Author: Pete

Editor-in-Chief, Lead Software Developer and Artistic Director @

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