What is it?
Anyone who has ever torn their hair out trying to solve Rubik’s Cube – and everyone who has mastered it – will find delight in the idea of a connected cube that teaches the solution, and adds new challenges.
That is the promise of GoCube, essentially a Rubik’s Cube packed with electronics, and connected to a smartphone. An app allows one to ply and practice multiple mini games, and precisely measure level of play. In turn, this means that one can challenge friends and other players online, and ultimately challenge to rise up a global leaderboard.
The good news is that the GoCube learning system cleverly takes one through a series of exercises that, combined, represent the standard process for solving the cube. The approach teaches both the moves themselves, and the muscle memory one needs to be able to go through the motions automatically. Best of all? One can learn how to solve the Cube in less than an hour.
It works through advanced electronic sensors built into every one of the GoCube’s magnetic parts, allowing the smartphone app to follow one’s moves by tracking the cube state, and reflecting them on the phone. It also uses an orientation sensor, comprising accelerometer and gyroscope, to track the device’s 3D position in real time.
The connection uses Bluetooth enabled low energy, which means there is very low demand on the battery, and one charge should allow for up to 60 hours of play.
The cubes can light up according to the colours of their faces, but this is more of a gimmick than a practical aid, as the LED lights are not bright enough to aid play, for example, in night mode. It suffices for status indication, however.
The GoCube Edge edition comes with a USB charger specifically designed for the cube, a charging stand to hold it, and a pouch to carry it around.
The app supports both Android and iOS phones, as long as the device is iOS 8 or higher or Android 5.1 or higher.
What does it cost?
The GoCube Edge 3×3 Full Pack is available from the iStore for R1,799.
Why does it matter?
Particularly, a company focused on developing smart toys and products, says: “In the last years, we’ve developed, manufactured and sold a number of smart connected toys all over the world. Toys and devices powered by sensors, processing capabilities, ultra-low power and wireless connectivity. While often difficult to the point of seeming impossible, it was only a matter of time before this group of magic-obsessed problem solvers figured out a way to solve one of the most challenging problems we encountered: how to effectively fit a world of technology into a standard size rotating cube.”
It’s not the only connected cube out there, but the app developed for it brings it into a new dimension.
What are the biggest negatives?
· The rounded edges can prevent fast, experienced players from getting the grip they need.
· On a related note, it’s bubble-style design means that one cannot transition seamlessly between the GoCube and a traditional Rubik’s Cube, without some mental calibration.
· Documentation is limited to the bare minimum.
What are the biggest positives?
· It ends the desire (and some people’s tactic) to dismantle a Rubik’s Cube in order to assemble it with the colours in their places.
· It connects to both Android and iOS devices.
· A superb gift for the cube-obsessed.
* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee