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Games on the iPad are fun, and can be educational – but what if they could blend the 2D screen of the iPad with objects that your child can touch and interact with? That’s the concept behind Osmo, an innovative approach to how kids can play with the iPad in a way that’s more in line with traditional toys. The Osmo system has a little attachment that sits on top of the iPad’s camera which allows the iPad to “see” in front of it. With this newfound sight, the iPad then becomes a platform for educational play with three different apps.

With Tangram, your child arranges physical blocks into shapes that match what is shown on screen. The Osmo-enabled iPad recognizes when the right pieces are placed. Newton challenges your child’s problem-solving ability with physics-based puzzles of falling balls that need to be guided to a target. This is done using Osmo’s sight and a piece of paper where your child can literally draw lines to help guide the balls to fall in the right places. Finally, Words challenges picture recognition and spelling by having your child place word tiles down that correspond to the picture being shown.

As a parent of two little ones, I’m excited to see more physical objects being integrated with digital apps and learning to combine good old-fashioned play with cutting edge technology. Osmo has recently launched their crowdfunding campaign and is currently available for pre-order at 50% off ($49) until June 22, 2014. It is expected to ship early fall 2014.