What about Siftables?

sifteoIn the quest for the appropriate/playful interaction technique for my PhD’s cognitive training/assessment game, I came across a very interesting, old acquaintance: Siftables.

More specifically, “Siftables are small computers that display graphics on their top surface and sense one another and how they are being moved. Siftables were developed as a platform for hands-on interactions with digital information and media and were the prototype for Sifteo cubes.”

Siftables come from MIT and were developed by David Merrill & Jeevan Kalanithi (read their published paper on Siftables here). Later, they founded Sifteo Inc., which produced the successor of Siftables, the Sifteo cubes. “Each Sifteo cube is a 1.5-inch wide block that has a clickable, full color LCD screen, a variety of motion sensors and a rechargeable battery. Sifteo cubes support 4 hours of play on a single charge; they recharge in a custom Sifteo charging dock.”

The fact that I am looking for tangible, “smart” interaction (mostly going for the cube game toy paradigm) and that Sifteo has a Sifteo Creativity Kit for developing custom game scenarios, it can be a fit. On the other hand, I hypothesise that the “wow factor” would kick in and probably fade out pretty fast, potentially hurting the motivation element of the game. Also, being a commercial off-the-shelf product would probably constrain the game development’s technical and artistic freedom at some point. A third negative aspect would be the fact that Sifteo has been acquired by 3D Robotics on July 30, 2014. That means that the production of Sifteo cubes has stopped and that there aren’t many cubes available out there. Thus, the prices are a bit high for my pocket/budget.

MIT Media Lab
Popular Science
Siftables on Wikipedia
Sifteo Cubes on Wikipedia

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