Merge Cube is a small, $15 device that is used as a template for augmented reality effects. Instead of the effects being seen on a wall or in thin air, they're overlayed onto the cube itself.
Roughly the size of a Rubik's Cube, the Merge Cube offers stunning augmented reality graphics in a bite-sized package. Users can use it to explore the solar system or traverse an ancient castle. And instead of waving awkwardly at the air, they've been gifted with a piece of "hardware" that they can manipulate with their fingertips.
Although it does seem a bit awkward to hold the Merge Cube in one hand and your smartphone in the other, once AR glasses become mainstream, this problem is likely to disappear. Users also report that playing with the cube itself is fun, intuitive, and requires very little app-specific knowledge. If you can point your phone at it, you can figure it out.
Complete with a developer kit for 3rd parties to create apps on the platform, it seems that Merge Cube is aiming to be more than just a gimmicky toy. One only wonders what freedom they'd have to create new, dynamic apps if only it wasn't required to hold a smartphone in order use it properly.
One thing that Merge Cube does well is integrate our sense of touch into the augmented reality experience. To date, apps like Pokemon Go and Snapchat have a more "virtual" feel. The effects are not felt, only seen. But with Merge Cube, users can "feel" the cube in their hands as well as see the effects, lending to a more complete visceral experience.
Whether or not the Merge Cube will catch on is anyone's guess. But as experts in the field of augmented reality, we have to give them credit for their unique take on integrating the sense of touch into a medium where it is all but nonexistent.
What do you think about Merge Cube? Let us know in a comment!