May 16, 2011 1:45 AM   Subscribe

RADICA CUBE WORLD: When they click together with their little magnets, they become aware of their own neighbors. Each cube is self-powered, and it almost seems that you could connect an infinite number of them together. My question: From a computer-science point-of-view, how could this toy be 100 times better!?!??

Coming from a supercomputing-cluster and high-tech-research-lab environment, I find the RADICA CUBE WORLD toys to be a maddeningly squandered opportunity. There's the elegant way that they CLICK together, they communicate with each other, each one has it's own LCD monitor, and even three input buttons. Yet the only thing they do is --- --- --- NOTHING!!! My computer-science brain goes quite mad with the possibilities of how infinitely more-fun this freaking toy could be. Though it's designed for the parents of five-year-olds with excessive disposable income, I often find myself browsing the toy aisle of Target looking for something as "fun" as the Rubik's Cube once was to me --- --- and these Cube World toys definitely need an operating-system rewrite. My question: in what interesting ways could this toy be even better?
posted by shipbreaker to Technology (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You should be able to get each person to display characters so you can make the cubes into an animated sign.
You should be able to stream a video/webcam to them.
You should be able to load the cubes with some kind of image and then have the character move around destroying it.
You should build some kind of game which relies on you moving cubes to specific places fast enough (catching falling objects, like tetris?).
You should have them act like puzzle pieces/tangrams.
posted by beerbajay at 2:29 AM on May 16, 2011

I saw a similar gadget in the toy shop at the weekend - it was an electronic version of Boggle(?) that displayed a letter on each cube and knew when you had arranged them into a valid word. Word games like that seem like a good fit for this technology.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:00 AM on May 16, 2011

There's Sifteo which is the $$$ version of Radica Cube World (or maybe Radica Cube World is the cheapo knockoff of Sifteo.) Not sure if Sifteo is shipping yet though. But it has an SDK.
posted by brianwhitman at 5:41 AM on May 16, 2011

Not sure if Sifteo is the same as Siftables?

The OP's description reminded me of that Ted Talk.
posted by Glinn at 6:04 AM on May 16, 2011

Oh, wow, I have some of those guys! We liked that the exercising guy would drop through a trapdoor to the cube under him and interact with, say, the musical-instrument-playing guy.

But yes, we also felt frustrated that we couldn't do MORE with them.

Obvious answer is to have multi-player games between the cubes that are competitive and challenging for the person handling them to play.
posted by misha at 8:25 AM on May 16, 2011

Oh, and in looking at the Sifteo game, for me, some of the appeal is lost when you take out the anthropomorphic element of the cube guys.
posted by misha at 8:26 AM on May 16, 2011

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