My 5-year old son loves this interactive, augmented-reality globe. He still plays with it six months later.

The globe and World Book Encyclopedias collection in the family room were contaminated. I would spin the globe to find a place and cross-reference it with an entry in the encyclopedia.
This setup was a great experience for me and sparked my interest in geography. My grade-school self cannot help but feel jealous of companies like Shifu that use augmented reality in order to make the world more interactive. Find out more educational toys Toy HQ

Shifu was founded in 2016 by Vivek and Dinesh Goyal. They specialize in educational toys. The Orboot was launched in 2017 by the company with the support of a successful Kickstarter campaign. It has won numerous awards since then from organizations such as The National Parenting Center.

Recently, I had the chance to try the Shifu Orboot out with Bucky, my five-year old son. This is what makes the Shifu Orboot an excellent educational toy.

Design

The Shifu Orboot physical globe has augmented reality (AR), so your child can interact beyond spinning it.

The package includes a stand, a globe measuring 10 inches in diameter, a parental/educator guide and a passport stamp. There is also a sticker book with flags from all over the world. You can download the Orboot app for iOS, Android, or Fire OS devices free of charge.

Although the globe does not have borders or country names, it does have graphics that show each region. Japan, for example, has sumo wrestlers, sushi, and a volcano. You can also find dozens of stars all over the world, which you can scan with the app to uncover facts about the area’s culture, monuments and inventions, as well as maps, weather, and other information.

After scanning an area, your child can tap the category that interests him or her. You can click on the highlight to find out more facts.

Bucky, for example, enjoyed learning about animals. Bucky was fascinated by the markhor, a Central Asian snake-eating goat. It started to tell him about himself when he clicked it. Bucky was able to take a quiz after learning more about the markhor.

The app contains more than 1000 cool facts and 400 highlights. Even parents might be surprised at what they can learn.

Installation

It is very easy to set up and only takes 15 minutes.

Installing the globe on its base is the only part that requires physical assembly. It takes the longest time to download the app, sync it with the globe and download all the information.

Although the app requires you to enter your email address in order to track your child’s progress you can use it without. Since I don’t want to helicopter my childs learning experience, I chose this option. I also try to protect my personal information as much as I can.

Next, enter the name of your child and their grade. If you have more children than one, you can create multiple accounts. After the long syncing and data download process has been completed, it’s time for you to start playing.

What makes the world stand out?

The app is very easy to use on my Kindle Fire tablet. Bucky uses his Fire HD 8 as his main media source. He was able to use the orboot anytime he wanted. This is unlike other STEM apps which only work on Android and iOS, or require me borrowing my phone.

Bucky had a great time playing with the Orboot on his own after I explained how it works. Although I wasn’t required to hold his hand, I had to remind him that it was important to play with the Orboot in well-lit areas. The app and camera will struggle to pick up the star icon if the lighting is too dim.

I love that Bucky will get more from the Orboot as he gets older. Although some concepts may be difficult for Bucky to grasp at five years old, they will become more understandable as he grows older.

Although it does require a smart device, I like that there is no need to purchase anything to use the Orboot. There are no hidden fees for upgrades or additional devices.

Most importantly, Bucky is still interested in the Orboot and learning from it. Although he can only play with the device for about 30 minutes, he has been returning to it over and over again in the six months that we have had it. He often comes to us with new facts, including matryoshka nesting toys.

Consider the cons

The globe stand is a bit fragile. The top of the stand is revealed when you reach for it by the arched arm, where children are most likely to grab it. The lightweight construction makes it simple for children to carry and the actual globe feels sturdy. In the last few months, we have not had any problems with damage.

With the Orboot, there is very little potential for open-ended playing. Although there are many facts, highlights and quizzes on the Orboot, it only provides a limited amount of information. After several deep dives, the Orboot will be fully explored by a child. Although we haven’t yet reached this point, I would be very happy if my son learned so much from the Orboot. Shifu may also add additional highlights to the app as it updates.

Screens are required for Orboot enjoyment. Parents who want to limit screen time for their children may find this difficult. But, this is not the same as passive, mindless streaming media.

The bottom line

The Shifu Augmented Reality Interactive Globe is a great choice if you are thinking about buying a globe to your child.

It’s more than just a map of geographic locations. This STEM toy covers culture, landmarks inventions, animals and other aspects of the world. There are also quizzes and scavenger hunts to test your child’s knowledge.

The Shifu Orboot is a great tool to encourage a child’s interest in geography.

The Pros: More Than 1,400 facts and highlights are available for children to learn. It works with a wide range of smart devices and keeps them engaged and learning.

Cons: Too expensive for a toy that requires a screen and doesn’t allow for open-ended play