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Osmo Brings Real Object Interaction to Digital Play
Company: Tangible Play
Product: Osmo
Video games are awesome. Personally, I am a big fan. I also look forward to the deeply immersive virtual reality and augmented reality gaming that we're on the verge of, with things such as Google Glass, Oculus' Rift and Virtuix's Omni. However, while I think it's awesome for adults to be able to experience heightened realities as an entertaining retreat from their everyday lives, I also feel that children learn how the world around them physically works through their physical experiences in their formative years. I think it's important to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground when you start reaching for the stars...

That's why I found Osmo to be so interesting. Osmo is designed to utilize the high-tech devices we've grown accustomed to (various flavors of iPad, specifically) and incorporate physical interaction that helps to reinforce spatial orientation, hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity, as well as encouraging and inspiring creative problem solving.

As you can see in the picture above, the Osmo system includes a mirror that clips onto the iPad and points the camera down into a "play area" in which kids can interact with the games. Notice how even the pen and the child's hands appear (as line drawings) on the playfield of the iPad above. You can see the digital interactive elements (in purple) as they are falling from the top of the screen and interacting with the drawings on the paper. This game is called Newton and it allows children to use pen and paper and even physical items, such as toys, to interact with the game on screen, bouncing balls to hit targets. This game will be available when Osmo is launched.

Another game available at launch, Tangram, may be familiar to some; it's a shape matching puzzle game that's been around for a while, consisting of flat, colored, polygonal-shaped pieces. The goal is to arrange them to match the shape of a provided image. Solving Tangram puzzles works on color recognition, shape recognition, pattern matching, and spatial thinking, among other skills. Osmo enhances this classic puzzle game by providing aural and visual feedback to acknowledge and reward players as they are solving the puzzle.

The third game that has been revealed as available at launch is Words, a fast-action competitive word game designed to be played by two teams. Using two sets of alphabet tiles that are color coded to indicate which team they belong to (one full set of red and one full set of blue), players attempt to guess a word based on an image that is shown. To guess the word, players toss the letter tiles they think are in the name into the play area. The game indicates whether the letters are in the word and keeps track of scoring. The game has both cooperative and competitive modes and features gameplay geared to players of all ages.

"After seeing Osmo for the first time I couldn’t stop bringing my colleagues to see it, and we couldn’t stop raving about Osmo. Every time students play with the Osmo, their excitement is palpable. After testing hundreds of products for kids, we've finally found a product that we know every one of our students will love - a product that naturally brings kids together around the iPad and engages them to learn collaboratively. This is the future of education."
- Tanya Avrith, Apple Distinguished Educator

With the (obvious) exception of the required iPad, the Osmo kit includes all of the physical pieces you need to play Newton, Words and Tangram: the Osmo base and mirror, wooden Tangram shapes and word tiles. The games, themselves are available free on AppStore.

Osmo will retail for $99 USD, but presale backers will get discounted pricing of just $49 USD (limited time offer). You can also receive $5 off for each friend you refer who purchases an Osmo.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins
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