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Can you hold a camp fire hologram in the palm of your hand? Would your child like to watch a volcano erupt virtually out of thin air? Can your family play a game using augmented reality and virtual reality, with only a mobile device and a handheld cube, and maybe a virtual reality headset? Yes, all this IS possible using the Merge Cube, a handheld game and toy that simply wowed the Little Lake County staff members at the Chicago Toy and Game Fair.
The Merge Cube makes it possible to experience virtual reality and augmented reality anywhere you can take the handheld cube and your mobile device. The toy can also be used with a smart phone inserted in to a set of colorful Merge VR/AR Goggles (sold separately from the Merge Cube). The optional Merge VR/AR Goggles are available in an assortment of inviting, bright colors and are also made of high-quality, comfortable foam that will withstand hours of play. The surrounding foam is also easy to clean. The headset was named by CNN as Best VR Headset for Big Kids and Tweens. The goggles can also be used to view Google Cardboard apps.
The Merge Cube is a lightweight, foam-like 2-3/4 inch cube that is embossed on all sides with silver designs. It won’t break if dropped, and it is easy to maneuver. And save the packaging — there is a cube case and a mobile device stand built into the package design! Using and setting up the Merge Cube is quick and simple. Simply unpack the cube (no wire cutters or plastic clamshell openers needed), download an app, choose your playing mode (either phone or VR/AR Goggles) enter your activation code (setting up an account is optional), aim your device at the cube and start playing.
My family first tested the Merge Cube using the Merge Things, which is a free app. This app includes several games, holograms, a music speaker, a campfire and amusing little characters that will appear in the palm of your hand as you rotate the cube. We found this app to be fun, easy to use and entertaining. By selecting Boombox (pictured above) a speaker appears and plays music through the phone, and the user can shuffle through a variety of per-programmed songs and adjust the volume of the speaker.
Using the Merge Things app and the Campfire selection, users can view the campfire (pictured above) from any angle by rotating the cube, and the sound of the burning campfire is broadcast through the device.
Mr. Body is another fun, educational and FREE app for the Merge Cube. This interactive app allows users to learn about the workings of the human body by visualizing the parts of the body. Users can select the body part, such as the brain, and learn more about it. As with other games, rotating the cube allows users to view the images from all angles: top, bottom and side to side.
There are plenty of ways to experience the Merge Cube. By entering the Merge Miniverse, users will find a special curated selection of games, videos, 3-D models to music and educational apps to match nearly any child’s interests and abilities. Older kids (and adults) who want to develop VR games for the Merge Cube are encouraged to visit the Merge Labs, Inc. developer portal for information on how to develop apps and apply to the Merge Cube Developer Program.
Merge Cube was awarded the following in 2017: Best New Gadget by Wired at the Mobile World Congress, one of 20 Products You Need by BuzzFeed, Most Unique Product by techradar, and it received the DISTREE EMEA Fresh Award. The Merge Cube is recommended for players age 10 and older, and is available for purchase at local WalMart stores and Amazon. My family enjoyed this new toy and game, and I know your family will love it, too.
by Merge Labs
Have you tried the Merge Cube? Let us know your thoughts about it in the comments section below.
Disclosure: The writer received a Merge Cube in order to facilitate this review. No further compensation was received and all thoughts and opinions are the writer’s own.