Apps for the Merge Cube
The world of augmented reality was shaken up after the popular Merge Cube by Merge VR dropped in price from $15 to just a dollar at many Walmart stores. When using specific apps, these cubes showcase different experiences as you rotate the block around with your hands. If you haven’t held a Merge Cube yet, they're made of a soft rubber material that’s comparable to a stiffer stress ball. (If you want to test out the apps first, you can print out a temporary paper cube.)
The Merge Cubes work with most mobile phones and tablets, and the apps are found in the Google Play and App Store. There’s also an optional AR/VR headset users can wear for hands-free play, which makes the experience more immersive. The most exciting aspect of the Merge Cube is the opportunity for students to become a Merge Cube Developer and create their own applications.
While educators are flocking to scoop up hot deals at their local store, many are now wondering how to use them in the classroom. I’ve listed some of my favorite educational apps to load on your devices, but I anticipate the list will continue to expand as more developers jump into the Merge Cube Madness.
10. Th!ngs (FREE)
The Th!ngs app is a perfect starting point to use the Merge Cube because it’s kind of like a sample of all the available apps. Add a cozy campfire in the middle of your station while students read or give them time to share their weekend happenings until the Jack-in-the-box pops out.
9. Elemental Order ($1.99)
The Elemental Order app is similar to Simon game, but instead of tapping the colors that you see and hear, you rotate the cube around to find each color and select the same pattern. Elemental Order draws on memory, focus and more importantly, repeating patterns.
8. Mr. Body (FREE)
While anatomy is found in many AR and VR resources, the benefit of the Mr. Body app is the cartoon content that’s appealing to our younger students. Each body part has a caption that can be opened to get further insight. While the description of the body parts are labeled in text, the whole class can enjoy the exploration of the body within the cube.
7. MyARquarium (FREE)
Don’t have an aquarium in your classroom? No problem! The MyARquarium app allows you to select from more than 60 fish variations in your cube aquarium and feed them, too. Adjust the floor of the AR aquarium and easily view the fish swimming as you rotate the cube. The class can use the aquarium to identify various fish species and label their major body parts or their adaptations for survival.
6. Galactic Explorer (FREE)
Explore the solar system and watch the planets rotate around the sun (cube). Select each planet for additional information while the sounds recorded in space are heard in the background. Use this app in your classroom to discover how the planets orbit the sun or discuss why the various planets make the different sounds.
5. HoloGlobe (FREE)
Surprisingly, I was able to explore the HoloGlobe app on an older Android device. The “beta” app displays the Earth and layers various visualizations on top of it. The view populates satellite imagery and data simulations that display Earth’s data in near-real time. Upcoming features will include precipitation, temperatures and more.
4. DinoDigger ($1.99)
Think dinosaurs—roaming around your cube. Become a Paleontologist and dig for fossils located around the world. Use augmented reality to excavate the land by using a pickaxe, awl and brush, and then add plaster. Try and find as many bones as you can around the world to complete your dinosaurs. Classrooms can explore rock types, time periods and different environments.
3. Dig (FREE)
Begin building with AR using the Merge Cube app. Much like Minecraft, students can design their cube using brick, cobblestone, wood and many other block types. The most important feature of Dig is the creative opportunity for students. Not only can you create your own build, but the option to download another world and add to it makes this app a beneficial addition to any creative classroom.
2. AnatomyAR+ ($0.99)
Explore some of the most vital body organs in this intensive, animated 3D view. Watch a beating heart or look inside of an animated pulmonary trunk. The details are remarkable, and the descriptions, along with the 3D experience, highlight the way we should teach anatomy.
1. 57º North ($2.99)
I saved one of my favorite apps for last because it delightfully connects storytelling and AR. As the story comes alive inside the cube, the student is provided with options to progress the story. There are multiple endings with consequences for each option selected. Giving our students a way to personalize a story, use AR to view the scenes and hold the story in their hand makes this app a top choice to include in your classroom.
Don’t miss the chance to explore the new Museum Viewer by Merge VR. The app places museum artifacts in the palm of your hand. Take the learning to the next level by placing the artifacts to scale inside your classroom such as the Rosetta Stone shown above. In addition, Merge has given you the option to upload your own 3D content using their Object Viewer app.
If you’re looking for the best Merge Cube deals, search local store inventory and prices using your zip code here. You may be able to snag class sets (or more) and not break the bank.