Magic kits are a rite of passage for many kids, especially kids who like science, mechanical objects, and/or attention. And as technology advances, so to do ways for small children to try and impress adults with their magical powers. Meet the HolograFX: A magic kit powered by a smartphone you shouldn’t give to a child in the first place.
Seriously, that’s kind of a major flaw in this whole thing: Who gives an eight-year-old a smartphone? But, provided you’re willing to fork it over, the HolograFX uses the phone to create a “hologram”. Then you interact with it using what amount to a series of fairly standard magic tricks.
Being as it’s a magic kit, they don’t reveal the secret behind it for fear of the wrath of the Magician’s Alliance. But just looking at the press material, this doesn’t appear to be a genuine hologram so much as a rather clever application of Pepper’s Ghost, an old-school real-time visual effect fans of Disney rides will be very, very familiar with. You do tricks behind a transparent screen and the “hologram” is reflected back to the viewer. So it’s not a real hologram, but honestly, only the distant physicist parents of the world will be mean-spirited enough to point this out.
It also seems to be something of a tribute to the old FMV games from the Sega CD, mixing in some fairly standard illusions with some epically terrible acting. This toy isn’t shy about bringing the cheese; we’re pretty sure these actors were on Power Rangers or something.
Either way, it’s a fairly neat application of old-school magic tricks and the visual trickery involved can be used to teach kids about physics. Or disappointment. Either way, the HolograFX is shipping soon, with a cost of $36 for a pre-order.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.