Osmo: An Awesome iPad Game for Kids Even Tech-Wary Parents Will Love
It’s the parental lament that just grows louder as kids spend more time glued to a screen: “Why can’t you play with real toys for a change?”
Now the kids can, without having to give up the digital devices they’re so fond of, thanks to Tangible Play’s Osmo. Created by two ex-Googlers and a former Disney executive, Osmo combines real physical objects with the virtual world of an iPad. It uses a simple plastic stand, a mirror, and a handful of common objects to create a unique gaming experience.
Tangible Play’s Osmo lets kids play games on their iPads using pens, paper, and puzzle pieces.
“Instead of a virtual reality game, we wanted to build an ‘actual reality’ game,” says co-founder Pramod Sharma, whose 5-year-old daughter adores her iPad. “We wanted something that didn’t require electronics, WiFi, or a battery, and couldn’t be easily broken. And it needed to be deep. We don’t want you to play it for just a day; we want you to be able to play for months.”
I think they may have succeeded. Osmo is an awesome combination of low-tech toys and high-tech ingenuity. Really, the video above doesn’t do it justice. These games may be aimed at kids age 6 to 12, but once I started playing them, I didn’t want to stop. (What that says about my relative level of emotional maturity is another matter.)
Let’s get physical
Here are the instructions for how to use Osmo. It’s really complicated. Ready?
1. Place your iPad 2 or later into the plastic stand.
2. Hook the mirror over the front-facing camera.
3. Launch the apps.
Osmo will feature three games at launch, each with its own app.
In Words, you compete against another player to spell words using letter tiles written in blue or red. The app displays blank spaces for a three- to seven-letter word, hangman style, along with a photo that offers a clue about the word you’re trying to guess.
You and your opponent toss letters out in front of the iPad as quickly as you can. If the blue player guesses correctly, a blue letter appears in one of the blank spaces. If not, it appears in one of the 10 circles at the top for incorrect guesses. Each letter is worth 2 points, and the words get harder as you advance in the game. Make a lot of mistakes, and the app automatically lowers the difficulty level. The game will launch with a vocabulary of 2,000 words and 200 images.