Merge is announcing that the Merge Cube is debuting exclusively this week at Walmart stores across the U.S.
The Merge Cube is a holographic toy that allows users to physically hold and interact with 3D objects using augmented reality (AR) technology. The Merge Cube costs only $15, and it is compatible with iOS and Android devices. It features dozens of games and experiences built for it.
The launch of the Merge Cube in Walmart stores follows the earlier launch of the company’s Merge VR/AR Goggles, which are $60 devices that are available in 5,000 stores worldwide. While the goggles are aimed at those ages 10 and up, the Merge Cube is targeted at kids. The Merge Cube will expand into other major retailers soon.
“We’re excited to bring the Merge Cube to Walmart stores and physically put this technology into people’s hands. With this first-of-its-kind product, people can experience the wonder and amazement of interacting with holographic, 3D content in a natural and intuitive way,” said Merge founder Franklin Lyons, in a statement. “Our Merge Cube and Goggles allow users to interact with more than just a screen — now, they can build worlds, explore the human brain, visit foreign lands, and more through the power of VR/AR.”
Also launching today is Merge Miniverse, a portal for virtual and augmented worlds. Merge makes both physical products and apps, and it also curates a library of family-friendly experiences like 360-degree videos, virtual and augmented reality apps, and games.
The Merge Miniverse allows AR and VR explorers to choose from hundreds of apps and experiences to use with the Merge VR/AR Goggles and Merge Cube, as well as with other AR/VR devices.
Some of the Merge Cube apps currently available on the Miniverse (with more coming soon) include:
- Th!ngs: A collection of holographic minigames where users can hatch and play with their very own Octopet, battle alien forces, and hold a campfire in the palm of their hands.
- Mr. Body: A hands-on holographic anatomy lesson that gives a close-up view of the vital organs and their functions.
- Galactic Explorer: An educational game that lets users hold and interact with the solar system. They can watch as planets orbit the Sun, explore the texture and color of each planet’s surface, and discover interesting facts while navigating the universe.
- Dig!: A world-building game that lets users build and mine to create holographic 3D worlds they can hold in the palm of their hand, save their creations, share with friends, and download and build off others’ pre-built worlds.
Merge is inviting developers from around the world to join them in shaping the future of play. In June, the company announced its Merge AR/VR Developer Fund, a $1 million fund to support the developer community building apps for Merge products.
Above: The Merge Cube.
Image Credit: Merge VR
“With an innovative product like Merge Cube, we wanted to expand our support of the dev community to encourage innovation and creativity for all AR/VR platforms,” said Merge VR cofounder Andrew Trickett in a statement. “The Goggles and Cube, paired with original apps and those coming in from third-party app developers, provide a hands-on, educational virtual space for a new generation.”
AR/VR studios already participating in Merge’s Developer Fund include React VRX, Draw & Code, Steelehouse Productions, Chicken Waffle, NextGen Interactions, Possum Interactive, Half Full Nelson, and Cenda Games.
“When a kid can pick up a physical object and see it turn into ‘something else’ in the palm of their hand, it’s magic,” said Chad Lee, CEO of React VRX, in a statement. “Developing products that create this magic is exciting for us. We can design so many interesting things around the cube and hope to partner with Merge to make it ‘toy of the year.'”