As the ads for all the VR headsets start to pick up and actual products hit the shelves, one thing is guaranteed – kids are going to start asking for them, and pointedly not caring that a $600 gadget is well out of their particular toy range.
So, if you have child with an upcoming birthday or other special event – or you are worried about your kids picking up your new Oculus Rift and literally bouncing off the walls – we have a suggestion for you instead: Try out this View-Master Virtual Reality headset as a unique gift idea instead.
It’s not fully-interactive VR, but it is very cool, and makes a great gift for kids who love the idea of VR but aren’t ready for a full headset quite yet. Don’t be fooled by the appearance, this isn’t one of those old-fashioned photo viewers that outlived their purpose sometime in the 50s. Instead, it’s a kid-friendly visor that’s designed to connect to a smartphone – literally. Download the right app, slide the smartphone in and lock it down, then let the show begin.
There are actually several different apps, each with their own show that takes kids on tour of the ocean, outer space, other countries, and generally places that are a lot more interesting than riding in a car for hours. When you or your kids get bored, look online for more options. Thanks to projects like Google Cardboard, there are thousands of these virtual-lite apps to choose from on nearly any panorama or topic. Yes, you need the right smartphone, but this View-Master works with older and newer models of many different brands, from Samsung Galaxy to iPhones 5 and 6, plus many more.
In addition to providing distraction and learning, this headset can also help you train your kids on how to use VR tech (as well as finding out how easily it makes them sick). If you were struck by the irony that you still have to allow your child to use a $600 electronic device, know that this gift for kids intends parents to carefully lock the phone in place themselves, and that’s a really good idea. The visor itself only costs $26, which compares quite favorably.