[amazon box=”B01LXOJ9G6″ template=”vertical” title=”Ocean Pets”]Finding new arts and crafts projects can be a challenge, never mind looking for one you can play on your iPad! Ocean Pets is a craft meets iPad virtual aquarium for kids, with a really cool augmented reality activity.
An augmented what? Augmented Reality. Basically your kids will be running around the house with their iPad in hand, trying to catch virtual fish that don’t exist.
Sounds like fun! Yes it sure is.
Playing with putty, kids design a fish in one of the moulds that comes with the pack. When they are happy with their creation, you scan it into an app on your iPad and ‘Voila’, it becomes a virtual fish swimming in the ocean. The fish becomes a virtual pet they can feed, bath and keep happy.
Augmented reality toys are a pretty new thing, so it’s nice to see a fun activity that incorporates, learning, crafts and technology together. Let’s review.
Unboxing the Ocean Pets Virtual Aquarium for Kids
It’s a small box, so is the perfect size for a gift. It comes with 8 moulds, 2 crafting tools and 8 pots of colored putty. The putty has a really nice texture and feels nice and soft in your hands. Though it does dry out quick enough. We left it out after playing for a couple of hours, and by that stage it was getting hard. So we will just use some Play-Doh, next time we try it.
What’s In The Box
2 x Green Crafting Tools
How It Works
The kids started off by opening up the packs of putty and choosing a fish mould. It comes with 2 green stick type tools for helping them to spread the putty into the moulds. Once the fish are ready, you load up the app and scan in the fish by taking a photo on your iPad through the app. Each mould has a number that corresponds to a specific type of fish. The app recognises the fish shape from the numbered mould and transforms the colors into a virtual fish version.
When the fish was scanned in and appeared on the screen, the kids got so excited. But I found the app a little bit confusing after that. The more fish we made the harder it was to find them swimming in the ocean. I probably should have familiarized myself with the app before we started. With three noisy kids around looking for their fish, I was under a bit of pressure to get it working quickly.
Anyway, once the fish are in the ocean, you can slide your finger around the screen to get a different perspective of the fish and to see everything in the water. The fish become virtual pets that you can nurture and pet with a virtual hand. Other things you can do with the app are take a photo of your fish in the ocean and a quick video recording of them moving around.
The Augmented Reality Part
So where does the augmented reality come in?
You press the ‘AR’ view button and the app uses the camera on the iPad to make part of the background the ocean, and the other part your room, garden or wherever you are at the time. So it’s like an overlay of the ocean with fish swimming around on the screen, but you can still see a real life background as well.
The kids found this fascinating, they would shout “there he is” while looking at the screen and then run over to that part of the room, searching for the fish. “Ahh it’s only on screen” they said when the concept finally hit home. It was fun to watch them trying to figure it out. Chasing virtual fish around the house is an activity on it’s own, so we really got two for one with the Ocean Pets.
There are 8 different fish types to make with the putty: Clownfish, Regal Tang, Sailfish, Royal Gramma, Kissing Gourami, Puffer Fish, Picasso Triggerfish and a Whale Shark. The app gives you a little bit of educational information about each fish. So you can tell your kids about what type of fish they just made.
[amazon box=”B01LXOJ9G6″ template=”avgen” title=”Ocean Pets”]Ocean Pets is something different for kids to do, as opposed to your run of the mill Play-Doh playtime. It’s a nice way to introduce virtual reality to younger children, without using a VR headset. Transform something you’ve made into something on screen, and then watching it come to life and float around the house is exciting for any young mind.