Merge Cube Review: The Ultimate VR Learning Toy in 2018
Editor's rating:
9.0
Reviewed by Bobby Brower
User's rating:
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We like
  • Merge Cube is the only toy of its kind where you can hold a hologram in your hand
  • Merge Cube is compatible with all smartphones and tablets
  • Downloading apps is easy and there are a variety of apps to choose from
  • Merge Cube is affordable and fits into any kind of budget
  • Merge Cube has a high educational value making it a valuable toy
  • The Merge Cube technology is easy to use and understand
We don’t like
  • The number of apps is limited
  • Users have found it easy to become bored with apps after a few uses
How it works

Augmented learning has long been seen as the wave of the future, and Merge Cube is the latest in the technological advancement of augmented learning and virtual reality toy making. Merge Cube takes learning and literally puts it into the palm of your hand. Once purchased, you can connect your Merge Cube to your smartphone, tablet, or Merge Cube goggles, and begin experiencing learning and playing in a 3D virtual reality or augmented reality experience where kids and adults can hold the solar system, human organs, or maps in their hands as they play games, build items and explore science by simply holding the cube in front of your device. Merge Cube generates holograms that bring learning anywhere you go and will entertain any child or adult who loves technology and learning through games.

Function

Function

Merge Cube is easy to use. The user already owns most of the technology, and the cube itself does not require any set up. Merge Cube works by generating holograms via the Merge Cube apps and creates a three-dimensional reality. You can take the six-sided foam cube that is Merge Cube and place it on the Merge Cube base. You can then download the Merge Cube apps to your smartphone or tablet. Once the apps are opened to your desired game or learning application, place your smartphone or tablet on the Merge Cube base in front of the cube and watch on the screen how the cube becomes a hologram according to whatever app you have chosen. You can then pick up the cube and turn it around and around and get a full 3D virtual reality or augmented reality experience immediately.
Design

Design

Merge Cube is designed in the simplest way, which makes it so user friendly. Merge cube comes with a base where users can place the cube on a platform. Next to that platform, is a groove where the user can place either their smartphone or tablet in front of the cube so that once the app is launched, the game or augmented learning experience can be viewed through the screen and the user can use both hands to manipulate the cube and utilize the app to its full potential. As noted previously, there are also goggles available for purchase either through Merge Cube or a third party provider that enable the user to strap their smartphone to the goggles to be able to experience the app with a blocked peripheral vision. The cube itself is made of foam with metal sensors around the outside allowing for more durability and longer life of the cube. It’s the simplicity of the cube that makes the experience all the more fascinating.
Education

Education

Merge Cube does what most educational toys are limited in doing, which is to put the lesson directly into the hands of the user. With the use of 3D imagery and user-friendly technology, anyone is able to use Merge Cube to learn and play games without knowing the ins and outs of how the Merge Cube works. There are a lot of apps and games that enable a child or adult to learn new facts and utilize new ways of learning, but Merge Cube takes it one step further by using hologram technology to add the element of discovery and exploration to learning the lessons. The hologram images produced by the syncing of the app to the cube enables the user, whether child or adult, to handle the image and manipulate it in order to learn further information. The key tactic that Merge Cube has that other educational games and tools do not have is the merging of visual and written information that when blended together opens up more about what is being learned. By being able to add a tactile function to the device, Merge Cube allows for the user to truly be immersed in what they are learning about as if the items where directly in front of you.
Phone Compatibility

Phone Compatibility

Merge Cube can work with any smartphone or tablet. Whether your smartphone or tablet is IOS or Android, you will be able to use the Merge Cube apps for your Merge Cube. There is no limitation based on which operating system you choose to use. The Merge Cube base is designed so that the area that is reserved for the mounting of your device, whether it’s your smartphone or tablet, can easily fit either an IOS product or an Android product. There is no need for any additional attachments, apparatus, or hookups. Smartphones can also be used along with VR or AR goggles purchased either through Merge Cube or a third party retailer. Phones slide into the lenses of the goggles allowing the user to have a fully uninhibited, hands free experience.
Goggle Compatibility

Goggle Compatibility

Although Merge Cube works well with a smartphone or tablet, it can also be experienced via Merge Cube goggles or any virtual reality or augmented reality goggles of your choice. Merge Cube goggles can be purchased for around $30. The goggles can only work by using your smartphone as the main apparatus to view the app. The goggles will come with a slot behind the lenses where you can turn your smartphone sideways and slide the phone behind the lenses creating a viewfinder. Before sliding the phone into the goggles, the app will give users the option to turn their phone screen to goggle mode, which will split the screen in half creating two smaller screens that will become the same size as the lenses of the goggles. When the goggles are then placed on the user’s head and over the user’s face, they will be able to see through their phone hands free. The user can then pick up the cube and have the virtual experience that they are truly in the same environment as whatever object the cube has become. The goggles are a more immersive educational experience because the goggles eliminate the peripheral view of the “real world” and cause the user to truly believe they are looking at and holding a real object that they can rotate and see from all sides.
Apps to Download

Apps to Download

Merge Cube comes with several apps available for download. All apps can be found on whatever smartphone app store is applicable to your operating system. Download the apps as you would normally. You can visit the Merge Cube website via your smartphone’s browser and get a full list of the apps that you are able to download. Once downloaded, create Merge Cube account and once it’s all set up you can then activate the cube, open the app and after you choose phone mode, you can begin to experience the virtual reality or augmented reality experience of Merge Cube.

Merge Cube has about two dozen apps available for download. Most of the apps are free while there are some that require a purchase, but it has been found that the cost is only a couple to a few dollars at most. Some of those apps to download include:
• Dig: build and create an entire 3D city based on your own design
• Galactic Explorer: view holograms of the solar system
• Tilt Ball: rotate the cube to guide a ball through a maze
• Rubik’s Cube: based on the toy from the 1980’s turn your cube into a twisting and turning puzzle.
• Mr. Body: view the systems of the human body
Graphics

Graphics

Merge Cube graphics are reminiscent of the graphics of a 16-bit video game system. Although some apps generate a more clean, more realistic graphic, other apps clearly have rougher graphics that remind the user that they are either playing a game or are indeed using an app via their smartphone or tablet. The graphics on some apps, however, do not take the user out of the experience, but rather, allow them to get lost in whatever it is that they are doing. With the exception of some apps like the solar system or the human body organs, the games still have the same experience and same level of fun regardless of the high or low level of the graphics.
Durability

Durability

Due to the design of the Merge Cube, its ability to last long is high. Because it is made from foam, it can be dropped, pushed, or handled by young children and still remain intact. The foam not only adds a shock absorber, but when handled by several hands both big and small, clean and dirty, the cube remains impervious to wear and tear from casual everyday use. Because the cube does generate holograms, users are not inclined to squeeze the cube or try to remove or harm the metal sensors that surround the cube, which are the main components in generating the hologram for the game or educational app downloaded, and the sensors also follow the motion and rotation of the cube, which helps the app know what position the cube is in in order to generate the proper graphic.
Awards Received

Awards Received

Merge Cube, in recent years, has been the recipient of many awards for its educational and entertainment values. It has been the recipient of the KAPI Award for Innovation In Children’s Media, and it has also been awarded the National Parenting Product Award for its educational and entertainment abilities. One of Merge Cube’s biggest selling points is that parents and children can enjoy learning together. If there is more than one cube, several users can download and launch the same app at the same time, wear their own goggles, and have similar experiences simultaneously. With just the use of the smart phone or tablet several people can watch through the screen while one person manipulates the cube allowing for everyone to experience the cube at the same time.
Price Range

Price Range

Merge Cube is mostly praised for its affordability. For a toy that is futuristic and relies heavily on technology to operate, the toy can be purchased between $13 and $15. When looked at more in depth, the user owns 90% of the technology, whether it’s the smartphone or the tablet. The only thing that the user is required to purchase is the cube, which has a simple design that is made from low cost materials. It’s the price of the toy that makes it such a high seller.

Bottom Line

The Merge Cube is worth the purchase. For such a low, affordable price, the buyer can get a full virtual reality or augmented reality experience where learning is fun and games are brought to a higher level of entertainment. Some may argue that the future of education and learning is heading in the direction of the Merge Cube where children can get a full immersed experience when learning about things that we cannot normal see like the inside of the human body or the solar system. The Merge Cube is recommended for children 10-years-old and up; however, it has been found by many users that children as young as four-years-old and five-years-old have had the attention span and capability of handling the cube and playing some of the games. It is warranted to know that it does take some form of dexterity to setup the cube during the use of certain games and apps and that kind of dexterity is not usually available to younger children. The Merge Cube will entertain both children and adults and the experience alone is worth the low price to purchase the toy.
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