Sifteo is clearly taking it to old-time board games from the likes of Mattel. This next generation game should have the big names worried. Loaded with new sensor technology these new generation toys are taking advantage of the sensor / interface revolution happening at the moment. The Sifteo Cubes are just one example of the wacky fun applications we can expect from this new technology.
The Cubes come in packs of three with each Cube having a 1.5″ display, sensors, cpu and wireless comms. Each 1.5″ Cube is gifted with the latest sensors including; touch sensors, motion sensors, proximity and contact sensors. Games are able to use each of the available sensors any way they wish. The clever system Sifteo has implemented makes the system extremely flexible for developers, the way the sensors are used is only limited by the developers imagination, expect new fun ways to evolve over time. After making a splash at CES and taking home Innovation awards Sifteo Cubes are about to burst into a gadget and toy stores everywhere.
The Cubes are available to Early Access members at the moment – which anyone can still apply for and join -, there is a discount available to members so it is worth getting in early. The discount rate of $99 USD for the basic pack will lift to $US149 once they are released in Q3 2011. They will be available through the Sifteo website, gadget stores, toy stores and other online retailers. The basic pack of cubes includes 3 cubes, a USB wireless PC dongle and a charger for 6 cubes. An expansion pack will be available, consisting of another 3 cubes that can be added to the basic pack, taking your cube count to 6 improving multiplayer and options during games.
Gaming on the Cubes generally involves moving them around, assembling them in different sequences, tilting and shaking. The classic spelling game ‘WordPlay’ is played by arrange randomly appearing letters into words. In the game each round starts with new letters appearing on each of the Cube, the player lines up the cubes to spell words, the contact triggers the Cubes to check the word exists and assign points. Each player takes a turn and the game goes round. In this case having the extra three cubes makes a direct difference to the words you can create. In the adventure game Booker the Penguin you lead Booker the Penguin around by placing Cubes where you want the him to run. As he runs from Cube to Cube you reuse Cubes placing them ready for Bookers next run. Some games like Chroma shuffle use a shake motion to reset the piece, and contact during the game. The game displays colored dots in random patterns on each of the Cubes. The player contacts the Cubes to put the same colored dots next to each other, when the Cubes sense this the matching coloured dots disappear and points are awarded. Shake the piece and new dots appear to match up. Educational games are also available along with other games created by Sifteo.
Playing game on the Cubes requires a PC near by, the included USB wireless dongle is plugged into a spare usb port and the Sifteo PC software must be installed. Games are downloaded from the Sifteo store and downloaded to the PC. During play the PC controls the Sifteo Cubes, the wireless connection allows the gameplay to take place completely independently of the computer, giving the impression that the Cubes are in control. This helps to keep the gameplay centred around interacting with the Cubes. Games are already available online from the Sifteo website, there are tons of games available, educational, adventure, word games and board games are well catered for. The developer community is still in its infancy but if more creative people get on board this could turn into a cult classic gaming system. Since the initial product announcement in January and the demonstrations and awards at the CES there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the Cubes.
This is part of the new generation of toys that allow us to interact with the device in a natural way. Like board games of the past the interaction is with real pieces on a real desk or coffee table. Allowing multiple player to use the pieces together is the final part of the board games secret that the Cubes have mastered.
Sifteo Cubes, one of those new gadgets that just grabs a hold of your imagination and gives it a good shake. With unlimited potential and endless hours of multi player fun these are the sorts of games the iTunes family will be playing in the future. It is still a computer game technically but feels like a board game. This is part of the revolution. The other part of the revolution will be the new ways we can use this kind of interface, ways that haven’t been imagined yet. A brave new world of entertainment, Highpants Santa better add this one to his list.
Sifteo cube tech specs
- 32 bit CPU
- full color 128 x 128 pixel display
- 3 axis motion-sensing accelerometer
- push button clickable display
- 2.4 GHz wireless communication to a computer
- no-touch neighbor sensing
- rechargeable LiPol battery
- sturdy ABS and PC plastic design
- 35 grams
- 4.3 cm x 4.3 cm x 1.9 cm
Further information at Sifteo’s website