The WowCube is greater than a online game gimmick

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I used to be charmed by an odd little gaming machine earlier this 12 months at CES 2022. The WowCube is actually a digital Rubik’s Dice with 24 screens. Gamers can twist it to play puzzle video games or put a picture onto it and use it as a neat little house dialog piece.

It comes at a time the place we’re seeing numerous online game devices outdoors of the standard console giants. The Steam Deck is revolutionizing how gamers entry PC video games, the Analogue Pocket is a must-own for gamers with numerous previous handheld video games, and the crank-controlled Playdate is so unusual that it’s captured the curiosity of the gaming world. The WowCube exists in that very same area as a tool that fuses toys, online game consoles, and tech devices into one machine.

After I sat down with Max Filin, the CEO of WowCube creator Cubios, it instantly grew to become clear that the black field is greater than a cute gimmick. It’s an incredibly spectacular technical feat that might form the world in some very surprising methods someday.

Twist it

Essentially the most stunning factor concerning the WowCube is that it deftly delivers on its wild pitch. The machine is a dense black field made up of eight cubes, with 4 screens on all sides. Once you fireplace it up, every display screen lights up with a distinct app icon. Faucet on one and the screens will mild up with a tactile sport that’s managed by twisting.

Most of the present video games out there on it at current are simple. In a single sport, gamers transfer a ball across the dice, gathering factors. Rotating the dice creates totally different pathways for the ball to maneuver by means of. One other title is a 3D model of 2048, a puzzle sport the place gamers match numbers till they multiply as much as 2048. The latter is what I ended up spending essentially the most time with, because it’s a tactile twist on an already addictive puzzler.

Whereas the present model works and not using a hitch, it took time to nail down how you can piece it collectively. The unique prototype of the machine was a lot much less swish than the present model. It was a a lot bulkier field with thick plastic bordering every display screen. It was a low-resolution machine with Arduino CPUs packed inside. As you may think, although, getting a rotating dice of screens to work was no simple job. It will require an inventor’s contact.

“You may’t put one CPU, one battery, and one motherboard in after which wire them to 24 screens. There’s nothing on Earth that may assist 24 screens concurrently you alter the geometry,” Filin says. “The core of our mission was to make the modules completely autonomous.”

Three Wowcube prototypes sit on a desk.

I used to be genuinely shocked when Filin disassembled the machine solely, breaking it down into particular person cubes that also displayed visuals aside from the remainder of the parts. The staff had primarily discovered a technique to create eight computer systems that will join to one another by way of magnets and cost on one dock. Theoretically, the WowCube could possibly be damaged all the way down to its parts and reassembled as a flat 4×2 display screen or actually any form. Filin describes it as “the working system for toys,” likening what they’ve created to tech that powers sensible gadgets like vehicles and fridges.

“It’s far more than only a {hardware} toy; it’s the distribution of eight autonomous computer systems, and this expertise is behind it,” Filin says.

Past gaming

Whereas the staff at Cubios will develop its personal apps and video games for the machine, anybody will be capable of create their very own. The corporate even employed one 20-year-old developer after she made a magic eight-ball app the place customers may ask the dice a query and twist it to get a solution. The one cause WowCube isn’t broadly open to builders but is as a result of the staff isn’t large enough but to maintain up with the demand from devs.

The Wowcube's components sit on a table.

So far as gaming gadgets go, it would sound a bit area of interest — and it’s. However like lots of new tech, the WowCube is simply beginning with video video games, as a result of it’s a tried-and-true technique to convey customers in and a technique to keep centered. When Filin begins speaking concerning the wider potential for the tech, his creativeness begins twisting round just like the machine itself.

“In 2019, I met a buddy of mine who owns a clinic for people who find themselves injured in automotive accidents,” Filin says. “He stated ‘You may have a tool that might doubtlessly be a brilliant puzzle the place you may change the problem.’ We may give puzzles to sufferers who need to recuperate from a head harm. We will put white right here and white right here. No buttons. You twist, you join, it blinks, very simple. It’s mind growth.”

It’s far more than only a {hardware} toy; it’s the distribution of eight autonomous computer systems, and this expertise is behind it.

Filin goes on to record a number of extra potential use circumstances, like serving to youngsters with autism or adults with Alzheimer’s illness. He lists a number of verticals that Cubios is pursuing, a few of that are stunning. One long-term mission has the staff centered on early childhood growth. One other may see the machine getting used as a controller for sensible house gadgets.

Open-source potentialities

After all, some current buzzwords come up within the dialog too.

“The dice is what I name the proper depot in your NFT assortment,” Filin says, utilizing the machine’s aquarium-like show app as a possible instance. “It reveals your artwork. Or you could possibly purchase these fish or promote them like an NFT. You may breed them! I take one module with a fish and put it to a different dice. They breed, I’ve a singular fish. It seems right here within the aquarium.”

The Wowcube displays several apps while sitting on a desk in front of a keyboard.

Filin says that the corporate already has the white label (a services or products produced by one firm that different corporations rebrand) for concepts like that, and lots of extra. Nevertheless, it’s not shifting on them but because it desires to stay centered on the gaming facet for now. Contemplating that it’s an open-source platform, although, consumers gained’t have the identical limitations at launch. They’ll have entry to eight autonomous computer systems that may work together with each other.

Filin hopes to get gadgets into folks’s palms by Christmas, although the present part scarcity has a means of wreaking havoc on a tool made up of eight computer systems. If all goes nicely, folks will be capable of begin pre-ordering it beginning in April in a lot of the world. People within the U.S. could have to attend a bit longer, although Filin notes that some distribution plans are within the works, with “delicate confirmations” from some huge retailers.

The WowCube could not exchange your PlayStation 5, but when Cubios’ lofty aspirations come to fruition, it may change into a multitool for the trendy period.

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