Merge Merch - When AR meets VR
AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) - the latest hype in the world of technology.
Taking the internet by storm, AR games such as Pokemon go and VR games such beat saber are truly the best inventions of the 21st century.
But… What happens if AR meets VR?
Well, the result is Merge Headset & Merge Cube (also known as merge VR goggles and merge AR cube).
Without further ado, let's dive into the review.
I have to say - the box is extremely huge. Though after taking off the not-so-complex packaging, the contents are pretty - well, quite different from what I expected.
First up - the Cube. The whole cube is made of styrofoam - yes, even the "metal-looking" parts. Other than that, it feels like your usual solid styrofoam cube, so it doesn't hurt even if you accidentally drop it onto your feet. It comes with a link to an app, where you get to use the app to explore the cube. For $30, it's a somewhat reasonable price for the cube + app.
Next up - the VR Headset. I have to say - it's not what I expected it to be. The whole headset (except the lenses part) are made of styrofoam. I mean - At least for $45, I would expect something of "higher" quality. Maybe it will be great if it has a better design? It just looks kind of… cheap. Honestly, I think the cube is more worth it.
Well, since this Merge Headset & Merge cube set is meant for kids, I guess the styrofoam makes it safer so that even if it headset falls onto one's feet, it won't hurt.
The Merge app
To start exploring, you will need to first download the Merge Cube app. The instructions are pretty simple - go to mergecube.com and download the app. Afterwards, you will see two options - start a free trial or skip.
If you skip, you will be brought to the home screen with three explorers for your cube (Tutorial, Universe, Mr Body, Earth)
Want more explorers? You only need to pay $13 a month to unlock all of them! You can also choose a 7-day free trial of which it will start auto-collecting money from you should you not disable the "free trial" after seven days.
I have no confidence in my memory, and so I'll only be able to show the basic four explorers here. That being said, the paid stuff looks cool - there is DNA, Rock history of the earth and many more…
First explorer - Tutorial
As the name suggests, it's a tutorial, but it's still pretty cool. When you press the buttons at the side, there will be a transition animation to show a different side of the cube.
When you turn the actual cube around, the view changes too, which is pretty cool.
Second explorer - Universe
It's a AR 3D image of the universe. The view changes when you rotate it. When you tap one of the planets, it zooms into that planet, which is pretty cool. When zoomed in, you can click the information button to get more information about the planet! You can also rotate the cube, and it'll give you a different view of the planet.
Third explorer - Mr Body
It's an explorer that teaches you about body parts - a pretty engaging way to learn for kids, as compared to those dry textbooks. You can freely resize the view. Everything is also labelled so that you can refer to them easily.
Fourth (and Last) explorer - The Earth
I find it the most interesting of all because you get to freely adjust the separation of the layers (of the earth), and you get to see interesting volcanoes. Much more engaging than science textbooks, great for kids who love to explore.
In conclusion, the cube is pretty decent, and it's an excellent alternative for kids who don't like textbooks. I think $30 is pretty decent for the options the cubes provide, and if you sign up for the seven-day free trial, you get much more options to play around with. Just remember to unsubscribe immediately after the free trial ends.
Now, how does the VR Headset fair? The short answer is - it's not worth it. No matter how I adjust, it seems that the image couldn't be seen clearly. Honestly, Google cardboard is a better choice.
There are also restrictions for the VR goggles where the minimum size for the phone is 123mm, and the maximum size is 158mm.
The pros of this Headset is that it’s quite comfortable to wear, and the straps are freely adjustable. It is also resistant to dropping and external forces. Though for $45, I would recommend you to buy better choices on shopping sites.
The cube is pretty worth it, and the VR Headset… well not really.
The installation and usage of the cube and VR Headset is extremely simple and easy to implement, so that’s a plus.
Though beware that only compatible phone types can work with the Merge app (iPhone 6 and newer, Galaxy S5 and newer, LG G4 and newer).
If you’ve always wanted to teach your kids various stuff using AR and VR, please give this a try!
The explorers are pretty fun and interactive, so it will definitely get your kids hooked for hours.