Osmo is a unique application and gaming accessory for the iPad. I recently bought 10 Genius Osmo kits to use at my school. Along with the four apps (Tangram, Numbers, Words and Newton), each kit comes with a reflector and stand. The reflector slots over the iPad’s front-facing camera so that the accompanying apps can see what’s on a surface directly in front of the screen. In this way, the technology bridges the physical and digital worlds – each Osmo app allows the user to move physical pieces around in front of the iPad’s screen. Unlike many other apps on the market, this novel feature alone means that several children can be using the same iPad at once. It’s therefore a great kit for promoting collaboration and teamwork among students.
The Osmo apps are designed for use by children between 5 to 13 years – they can therefore be easily deployed across the school. The common feature in all the apps is how the puzzles or questions become progressively more challenging. The apps included in the genius kit cover key skill areas (numeracy, literacy and spatial reasoning).
Based on the ancient Chinese game, Tangram requires the player to arrange wooden puzzle pieces to match on-screen shapes. The puzzles include animals, objects and people. This is a particularly good activity for developing spatial awareness and getting children to work together.
In this game, different numbers appear in bubbles on the screen of the iPad. The player has to add, count or multiply the physical tiles in front of the iPad to match the numbers inside the bubbles. By doing so, the bubbles are popped, and this will free the fish and unleash a storm of lightning!
This apps requires plays to spell different on-screen images. Children have the option to team up or compete in-person with others to see who can get their letter in first! Extra free content can be downloaded like trivia or geography.
This is an interesting app and another one that is especially useful for spatial awareness. You can place any object in front of the iPad´s screen and then manipulate it to guide the falling balls into target zones.
The Osmo accessory kit and apps represent a new approach to interacting with digital technologies. In a similar way to augmented reality, which blends the real world with a virtual world, the Osmo apps allow users to manipulate the real world in order to alter the virtual world displayed on the iPad. This certainly provides the opportunity for some interesting learning activities, but what really sets Osmo apart from other iPad apps is the fact that it promotes collaboration and teamwork among students.