My husband, being the finder of all things strange and amusing, found the coolest thing ever! It’s called a Merge Cube, and we’ve been having so much fun with it that I just had to write a review. The Merge Cube is an unassuming foam block that is proving to be an amazing educational tool, as well as a novel way to play games with the kids. The Merge Cube brings you the power to use Augmented and Virtual Reality in education!
There are affiliate links in this post. This review was unsolicited.
So what’s so cool about the Merge Cube?
Sure, it looks like a lot of fun to play with – but why should I get one for educational purposes? The Merge Cube allows students to visualize what the solar system looks like, how the heart works. The Merge Cue is a prime example of hands-on learning and gameschooling!
This is a video of my husband using the AnatomyAR app. See the tips below to find Merge Cube &
Cube-compatible apps in the App Store and Google Play Store.
Using the Merge Cube (Augmented & Virtual Reality in Education)
TIP: The plastic packaging in the box doubles as a stand for your phone. This is especially helpful for apps that require clicking, children, and those of us who aren’t very graceful.
It may seem complicated, but the Merge Cube is really simple to operate. When you get the cube you’ll find directions for registering it inside, just follow those. You only need to register the Cube on one phone, additional users on different phones can create an account using their email to use the same cube.
TIP: Connect with friends & play games together using the Merge Things app.
Your phone is now going to act as your viewing screen, you can either hold your phone normally (you can use the included packaging as a stand) or use Merge Virtual Reality goggles.
Open the app that you want to use (more on that below), allow it to have access to your camera, and hold the foam Merge Cube in front of it. The camera “sees” the cube and recognizes its pattern, the app will then overlay the augmented reality screen (the games) over the cube. I know it’s a little hard to wrap your head around, so think of the cube like a video game controller and your phone as the tv you play on.
TIP: You need a smart phone with a working camera to use the Merge Cube in the Augmented Reality mode. For a more immersive virtual reality experience, you can purchase Merge Goggles.
Games featured in this video: Mr. Body, Tiltball, Merge Things, Dig, & Galactic Explorer. Sorry for the vertical video, that’s how the Merge Cube apps record.
TIP: You do not need wifi or a cell signal to operate most of the apps, making this a great educational tool to keep in a vehicle!
What kind of tech do I need to run a Merge Cube?
You need the following:
-Merge Cube (available at Amazon and Walmart)
-Smart phone (Android or iPhone)
-VR goggles (not necessary, but a nice addition. We like the Merge Goggles. Please note that you can use any set of VR goggles as long as they have at least one touch button and a camera cut out.)
TIP: To find the apps in the App Store or Google Play, try searching for “AR Merge” as well as “Merge Cube.” Some apps are free, some are paid.
My very favorites are AnatomyAR ($.99, appears to be available only on iPhone), Merge Things (free, over a dozen games that can be played with other Merge Cube owners), and Galactic Explorer (free). There’s a really neat game I hope to try soon called 57 Degrees North, and my son is keen on Dig, which is a lot like Minecraft. Dino Diggers looks pretty amazing, too.
FAST FACTS ABOUT THE MERGE CUBE
Buy it: Amazon, Walmart
Buy Goggles: Amazon
Find Apps: Merge Cube
(also look for compatible apps in the App Store and Google Play Store)
Tech needed: Android Smartphone, iPhone
Worldview: the science apps I tested appear to be accurate and Evolution-based
Meg Grooms is a long-time homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle and currently call Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.