What is it?
The Shifu Orboot Interactive Earth Globe is a solid plastic globe of the Earth, but without any names or borders – only images that are associated with different regions or locations. Children use the Orboot app to explore the globe through augmented reality: as one scans the globe with the app, images appear over the globe in 3D, along with detailed information, interactive quizzes and activities.
It was created by two dads from India, who shared a vision of making screen time more meaningful and learning more empathetic. They started a company called PlayShifu, and turned to the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform to raise the money for their creation. Contributions came from 60 countries.
The globe comes with an innovative and entertaining accessory kit, including a quick and fun guide for parents and educators, a “passport” in which kids can record their visits and impressions, and a booklet of stickers to use in the passport. These range from boarding passes to country flags.
Every highlight that is opened via the app comes with an introduction and information about where the item is located. This can take the user on a fairly deep dive into the map of a country and information about its culture.
How much is it?
R899 at the iStore.
Why should you care?
In an era when screen time turns children into passive and lazy receptacles of entertainment, the Orboot and its accessory kit flips the concept around, engaging children actively in the content they are consuming.
It inspires environmental awareness, including an exercise to “detangle the food chain, balance the ecosystem and take care of your own national park”.
The Playshifu range has expanded to Dinos and Mars globes, providing an ongoing journey of discovery, and educational experiences with slingshot and letters games. Next up, they are teasing a game that involves “lasers, aliens, clues, and furry friends”.
What are the biggest Negatives?
- The sticker book is limited in its city symbols, and seemingly politically selective in country flags included. South Africa and Saudi Arabia are there, for example; Israel is not.
- The symbols on the globe for sub-Saharan Africa are deeply stereotyped, showing only wildlife and nature.
What are the biggest Positives?
- No batteries or power supply needed for the globe.
- It encapsulates interactive learning and curiosity.
- It provides a broad range of information, from cultures and cuisines to monuments and inventions.
- The app supports most current Android and iOS devices.
- The content on the app is available in nine languages.
- The app can be personalized, creating a profile for a child that allows progress to be tracked over time. Multiple profiles can be entered.
- The guide booklet includes games that can be played with the globe without the app, and learning exercises for the app that don’t require the globe.
* Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee