My job is to find cool stuff. Throughout the week I spend hours scouring the web for things that are useful or fun or ridiculously cheap. Often times, these choices coalesce into a guide of like items—for example, the ultimate guide to making cafe-style coffee in your own home or how to make the perfect cold-brew coffee. But I often stumble across some pretty awesome gear that doesn’t really fit into a list. So I made a list for those.
4D Science Augmented Reality Kit
The Spicebox Books 4D science kit comes with 10 interactive science projects and hands-free goggles with a slot for your smartphone. The kit teaches users science with the help of augmented reality. After you download the app and place the phone into your goggles, a tiny animated scientist appears on the screen to teach you concepts from each experiment. Once the explanation is finished, you perform the experiments. The kit comes with a 30-page illustrated instruction booklet. $40
Augmented reality cube
The Merge Cube was one of my first experiences with augmented or virtual reality products. The camera on your phone turns the soft foam Merge Cube into a palm-sized holographic toy allowing you to interacted with 3D objects in AR. Once you put the goggles on, the Merge Cube becomes a virtual hub for education, games, and puzzles. The Merge Cube software works with iOS and Android. $30.
4D Augmented Reality games
Shifu Safari is an educational augmented reality game that uses 60 animal cards and your smartphone to provide engaging info about wildlife habitats, sounds, and diets. It’s recommended for ages 2-10 and is compatible with both Android and iOS. They also have a Shifu Space card set. $26.
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. $30.
Star Wars: Jedi Challenges
This is the priciest AR item on the list, but it will make you feel like a Jedi master, so you tell me if that’s worth it. Play a couple rounds of Holochess or pick up a lightsaber and take on waves of stormtroopers and droids—or even a Sith Lord like Darth Maul. The set comes with a headset, lightsaber, and a tracking beacon. $200.
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