Sifteo – The Future of Play

“The Future of Play” might be putting it a bit too strongly but Sifteo’s interactive and interacting cubes certainly look a great deal of fun. Each 1.5″ cube is a little computer with a small colour display, rechargeable battery and the ability to sense motion, other cubes and connect wirelessly to a PC or Mac. Once you put all this together there’s endless possibilities for games and puzzles.

There’s a video on the home page of the website which fleshes out how the cubes can work together. It’s definitely worth checking this out and the rest of the site to understand what happens.  It seems that you need to start with at least three cubes to start having fun and you can have up to six working together. Sifteo has six games announced on the website with more to come. When not in use they cubes can dock in a recharging cradle. A single charge lasts about 4 hours.

From the press release, it seems that co-founders, David Merrill and Jeevan Kalanithi first came up with the prototype for the cubes when studying at the MIT Media Lab. During their research they realized that the way people typically interact with physical objects i.e. picking them up to examine and arrange them, had not been explored by gaming companies.  “Traditional game consoles have lost the tangible and interactive nature of classic tabletop games like Mahjong and dominoes, that bring people together,” said Jeevan Kalanithi, co-founder of Sifteo. “Players tell us that Sifteo cubes reduce screen stare, banish tired thumbs and give families and individuals a more natural way to have fun,” said Kalanithi.

I would absolutely agree with this. After playing “computer” games for many years, I’ve recently had to return to more real-world games courtesy of 3 year old. Although her games aren’t very sophisticated, it’s fun to have fun with someone else.

The Sifteo cubes are competing at CES in the Last Gadget Standing contest and they’ve managed to make it through to the top ten.  Good luck guys!

Yesterday, Sifteo opened an Early Access programme and then closed it the same day. That’s how popular they were.  Frankly, I’m annoyed that I didn’t get in on the action….