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iPad Camera-Toy Osmo Wants Players to Customize Its Games

A techie new look at teaching kids to spell.

Eric Johnson for Re/code

Osmo, an iPad accessory that turns the tablet’s camera into an educational toy, has grossed $2 million to date in preorders, according to the company that makes it, Tangible Play.

With half of those preorders shipped, the company has started to roll out its first major feature update: The ability to customize the games Osmo can play. The $99 device (previously available for $49 as a preorder) was first announced with three games for young children, and one of those games — Osmo Words — can now pull down custom word packs from the Web.

The normal game shows players a picture, and they must toss letter tiles in front of the iPad to spell what they see. After the update, parents or teachers will be able to upload custom picture clues and answers to an online dashboard and then download those clues and answers into the game.

Tangible Play CEO Pramod Sharma said the albums are private by default, but can be optionally shared with other Osmo Words players. That may open up some interesting possibilities for the game’s usage in schools, 2,000 of which have already bought a unit.

Farther down the road, Sharma said he expects Osmo’s other starter games — Tangram and Newton — to be customizable. In the near term, though, the company plans to release new base games for the system later this year.

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