The best augmented reality toys to expand your view

A tactile play experience that is out of this world.

augmented reality app on phone
Augmented reality toys to change how you see the world.Daniel Frank via Unsplash

Concern over screen time for kids is on the rise, but the mass, hypnotic appeal of Youtube videos like Babyshark is hard to escape. There is a middle of the road compromise for Luddite parents that fear too much pure screen time and old-school toy enthusiasts: augmented reality toys that blend tactile objects with high-tech enhancements. Toys with augmented reality center the play-act around a physical object, which gives kids more structure and boundaries, as opposed to diving in recklessly into the infinite internet pool.

Augmented reality toys benefit from the tech because they are highly educational (hello, WiFi access for a trove of boundless knowledge) and because they’re still based on a physical object, if the power cuts, there is still something to play with—and imagination. Here’s a list of our favorite augmented reality toys for everyone in your life.

AstroReality Lunar Pro
Hold a 3D-printed moon in your hands and explore its surface with an augmented reality app.Amazon

Space enthusiasts can hold (quite literally) the moon in their hands with the AstroReality Lunar Pro, a 3D-printed, hand-painted model of the moon. It’s the most precise model of the moon, and with their AR app, one can explore and learn about its craters and dead volcanoes. For those who are more down to earth, there is also a 3D printed model of our home planet available—with augmented reality, one can see migration patterns and landscapes in different time periods.

Curiscope Virtuali-Tee
Know the body.Amazon

The Curiscope Virtuali-Tee teaches human anatomy through an AR app on your phone. The app reads symbols on the included t-shirt in order to map the anatomy models onto your body. After you’ve downloaded the app, aim your camera at the shirt and explore 360-degree videos of “your” bloodstream, lungs, and other body parts. Click on specific body areas and the app’s “anatomy expert” Hans Glover will tell you how each system works.

Merge Cube
An unassuming foam cube can transform with AR.Amazon

Made out of soft, durable foam, this cube requires no batteries or chargers and relies on a device for it to come to life. Kids can hold holograms in their hands while playing archaeologist or diving into the inner workings of the human heart.