Merge Labs Is Giving Away HoloCube Developer Kits

Merge Labs announced the HoloCube augmented reality interactive device at CES in January. The company expects to have the product on the market this Summer, and it's offering free dev kits to interested developers so they can help create experiences for early adopters of the AR product.

“Holding a hologram in your hand, and being able to manipulate and interact with it is a powerful experience, and now the developer community has the opportunity to create anything they can imagine in this untapped space,” said Merge founder Franklin Lyons. “Developers can be the first to unlock the potential of the HoloCube.”

Merge calls the HoloCube an “augmented reality marker.” It features distinct patterns on each side, which enables your phone to determine which side of the cube you’re looking at. The company designed the HoloCube to be an anchor point for AR experiences with physical interaction, and developers are encouraged to leverage the shape of the device to enhance the immersion of the experience.

“When people are interacting with their apps, they’re going to be touching this physical form, and you want your app to mimic that shape because what happens is your brain interprets the touching of this cube with the touching of your digital experience’” said Lyons. “And that’s a powerful, powerful, experience for people to have.”

Merge is ready to ship hardware to developers and is calling upon those interested in the platform to apply for a free HoloCube developer kit. The company didn’t say how many kits it would ship for free, but it also didn’t give the impression that it has a finite supply. Merge appears to be ready to swallow the cost of the hardware to encourage more developers to embrace the HoloCube concept.

The company previously told us that the HoloCube is the first in a line of “Holo” products, so it’s not a bad idea to bring as many developers into the fold as possible. 

“We are creating the future of play, and we’re inviting the developer community to join us,” said Lyons. “Allowing kids to touch, hold, and interact with holograms is memorable and inspirational. They’re the ones growing up with this technology - they will be the ones to harness its power and drive the evolution of toys of the future.”

Marge Labs is at SXSW, where it is showing off various demos of the HoloCube, including some at the SXSW Hackathon on March 14 and 15.

Merge Labs is already shipping HoloCube developer kits, and it expects the retail HoloCube to hit the market later this year at £20 (approximately $25). Interested developers can find the application information on the Merge Labs website.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.