Matthew Roszak

In The Press Blog

Sifteo demos cute wireless game cubes for kids

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Sifteo is one of the few cool new tech toys to emerge in recent years. The company has created small cubes with tiny displays and wireless connectivity, as you can see from the picture.

The cubes are one more example of how sensing technologies are changing the face of electronic gadgets.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sifteo will show off how adults and kids can play games with the cubes. The company plans to sell the Sifteo cube system for $149, but it will offer it at a discount of $99 for early adopters. At CES, Sifteo has been named a finalist in the Last Gadget Standing contest that will take place on Jan. 8.

The San Francisco-based company is creating a bunch of games that can go with its 1.5-inch blocks, which interact wirelessly and can be placed in different orders and moved around.

Co-founders David Merrill and Jeevan Kalanithi first came up with the prototype for the cubes when studying human-computer interaction at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. They realized that humans typically interact with physical objects by picking them up and arranging them. But most game companies have overlooked this behavior in designing their entertainment.

“Traditional game consoles have lost the tangible and interactive nature of classic tabletop games like Mahjong and dominoes, that bring people together,” said Kalanithi.

With Sifteo cubes, players install software on a Mac or Windows PC which is connected to the web. They can buy games and apps from Sifteo’s online library. A wireless universal serial bus (USB) link enables the games and apps to be downloaded onto the Sifteo cubes for play. The range for the downloads is a few feet to 20 feet.

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