With over 350 million cubes sold since it hit toy stores in 1974, the Rubik’s Cube is probably one of the world’s most popular toys ever. However, while the iconic cube has an avid fan base, which regularly compete to be the fastest, the brain teaser is daunting for most. It is, therefore, not surprising to hear that even though the toy has been on the market for over 44 years, less than 6 percent of the world’s population is able to solve it. Now, Israel-based startup Particula is introducing GoCube, a hi-tech version of the classic toy that promises to make the puzzle fun and interactive for both beginners and experts.
Udi Dor, Particula’s CEO & founder, first thought of the idea in 2016 when he was out with some friends, one of whom was playing with a Rubik’s Cube. The group talked about how much more fun the challenge would be if players could compete against each other online. After an extensive search revealed no multiplayer version of the iconic toy, the engineer decided to take on the challenge of creating one himself.
It was not an easy task. To connect the toy to an app, each of the 54 small cubes required a sensor. However, the large number of wires would become an entangled mess as soon as the cube was moved around. Plus, the cube’s tiny size made it almost impossible to fit the electronics in a way that would allow the toy to run efficiently – and have enough battery life.
Upon further deliberation, Dor and his team realized that instead of tracking the location of each tiny cube, it made more sense to track the changes made to each cube. While this meant asking users to upload an image of the cube’s starting position onto the app, it reduced the number of required sensors to just 12, with two on each of the six faces: one for turning clockwise and one for turning counterclockwise. The engineers also made room for an efficient battery, which can last up to 30 hours, by using Bluetooth technology, which utilizes radio waves instead of wires, The final product, which is still in the prototype stage, is much lighter and more importantly, smarter than the original Rubik’s Cube.
Fans will begin by downloading a special app on their smartphones or tablets. As the user attempts to solve the cube, the app will keep track of the movements and provide help and even tutorials for those that get stuck. “When you have this kind of Fitbit for cubers, with all kinds of data and information and analysis, we can provide you the exact weak points,” Dor says. “It’s a new way of teaching and practicing.”
Beginners or young kids can start by playing simple games, like rearranging the cube so that one of the sides resembles a flag of a chosen country. Another fun game, inspired by the popular Guitar Hero, features an image of a tunnel with little squares of lights flying toward the user to indicate what part of the cube he/she should twist. The best part about the GoCube, of course, is that fans can now challenge each other to play without leaving the comfort of their homes. Players can either search for opponents on the app or keep an eye on the cube’s internal LED light, which glows when someone challenges them.
As you may have guessed, the smart version of the iconic toy, expected to be released in April 2019, is not cheap. Dor expects the prices to range from $119 for a basic GoCube to $159 for the GoCube Edge, which allows users to keep track of their statistics and join online leagues. Those wishing to save some money can contribute to the company’s Indiegogo campaign, where the prices are a more reasonable $69 and $89, respectively. Though, still substantially higher than a traditional Rubik’s Cube, fans do not seem to mind. As of this week, the company has raised over $800,000, far surpassing their original goal of $25,000, from avid cubers seeking to take their skills to the next level or compete on a world stage.
Resources:Fastcompany.com. wired.com, digitaltrends.com