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Osmo's Monster turns kids' real-life drawings into digital art

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Osmo wants your kids' art saved for posterity, not just yellowing on the fridge door. The company makes educational tech products and accessories, including a line of drawing and programming tools for the iPad. Its latest package, called the Creative Set, combines a new app, called Monster, with a whiteboard, markers and an eraser, plus a handful of previously released apps.

Like other Osmo software, you'll also need another product the company sells, the Osmo base and mirror, which is available separately. Your iPad sits upright in the stand, while a small angled mirror rests on the top of the iPad, and allows the iPad camera to see what you're drawing (on the whiteboard, with the markers) in real time.

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Jacob Krol/CNET

The whole thing sounds a bit complicated, but in practice it's very simple. Like previous Osmo apps, the new Monster app uses a player's pen-on-paper (or marker on whiteboard) input to drive the software.

Upon launching the application, Mo the Monster appears and it moves right into a question and answer game. Mo will ask for something to be drawn, like a fruit or a friend. The drawings get scanned by the iPad's camera via the mirror add-on and are imported into the app, where they are used in animated presentations, including a magic show. You can even share the drawings via email in the gallery section after the show.

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Jacob Krol/CNET

I had a few days to play around with the set and application, and I have to admit: I think I would've enjoyed playing with this when I was a kid. The setup is a little complex, with multiple pieces of hardware required, but it works as it's supposed to most of the time. In hands-on use, I found having the right lighting can be a big factor. If the room is too dark, the app will not pick up the entire drawing.

All of this can still get repetitive, even with different questions being asked, and I'm hoping that future updates will build off of the magic show storyline and offer other experiences. An update to the scanning quality would be nice to see, but an optimal lighting environment can fix this issue.

This Creative Set is available now for $49 in the US and is coming soon to the UK and Australia for £39 or AU$69. The Monster application is included, as is access to Osmo's similar Newton and Masterpiece applications. Coming soon, the Creative Kit ($75, £57 or AU$100) will include everything from the Creative Set, plus the base and mirror.

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