$1 Merge Cubes: Easy and Cheap Handheld AR/VR

I went to Walmart yesterday, looking for Merge Cubes. A friend had mentioned them to me as a cube that triggers virtual reality games and I was anxious to see one and try it out. According to Google tonight, Merge Cubes sell for between $5 (eBay) and $15 (Target), so imagine my delight when I found them at Walmart for $1! I scooped up four of them and headed home to try them out.

I was immediately impressed by the product. The Cube is made of material a little tougher than a stress ball, so it can be dropped and tossed and will not break or break things. Each side of the black and silver cube is covered with designs that will trigger holograms in the apps that will Merge with the Cube. It comes packed in a little plastic case; it’s not fancy but will store the cube nicely.

If you haven’t tried out augmented or virtual reality, here is how the Merge Cube works. You get an app and launch it on your mobile device. Then, inside the app, point the mobile device at the Merge Cube. The designs on the cube trigger augmented and virtual reality experiences – games, activities, and more. The Merge Cube apps work with a mobile device or by pairing a mobile device and a VR headset. 

I tried out two apps as soon as I got home – Mr Body (FREE) and Galactic Explorer (FREE). My Body is pretty cool. You are greeted by a stick figure guy whose organs you can see. Tap the organs and you see that one close up. Tap the buttons on the organs and you can read some information about it. Flip the cube and you can see Mr Body (and his organs) from different angles. The graphics (seen below) might look cartoon-ish but the information is pretty sophisticated.

Galactic Explorer is an exploration of the solar system. I tapped the record button inside that app and made a quick video you can watch to see how this one works. In the video you can see my hand as I flip the cube and turn the solar system. I am tapping and untapping planets to zoom in and read information about them.


Here are some descriptions of a few of the other educational apps that are available:

57� North: A choose your own adventure app where two cousins are shipwrecked and decisions must be made in order to survive ($2.99).

Anatomy AR Plus: Hold the brain, heart, and lung in your hands and explore them in incredible detail ($0.99).

Cube Paint AR: Choose from several animals, paint them any way you want, and watch them move with their custom paint job (FREE).

Dig: Mine and build holographic worlds that you can hold in your hand and share with others (FREE).

Dino Digger:  Dig for dinosaurs with famous paleontologist Jack Horner. Uncover fossils and learn interesting dino facts ($1.99).

My ARquarium: Choose from among 55 types of fish to fill your virtual aquarium.

There are lots of games apps too.

If you have wanted to explore virtual or augmented reality, this is a durable and easy-to-use product that is available at Walmart for $1. It’s definitely worth the price!

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