Sifteo Cubes — 21st Century Building Blocks

Sifteo Cubes — 21st Century Building Blocks

The concept of interactive “smart cubes” has been around for awhile, but the introduction of Sifteo brings the concept to full market realization. The basic idea is to have a set of wirelessly-connected blocks that have embedded MCUs and full-color LCD screens that change image and function in relation to the other blocks around them. The cool thing about Sifteo is that it uses your computer (connected via a USB wifi dongle) to handle most of the smarts and the audio. One of the fun things about this product is the Creativity Kit it ships with, which lets you design your own puzzle and word games (and more in the future), and the forthcoming Software Developer’s Kit, which will open up app development for the platform. It’s probably too early to tell if this tech is a gadget gimmick or something with deeper, long-standing utility. Right now, the (pre-order) price is a wee high, at $150 for the basic kit, and $45 for each additional cube, but one would assume that will come down.

Here’s some of what David Pogue has to say in his NYTimes column:

The breakthrough idea, dreamed up by a pair of M.I.T. students, has three parts. First, the cubes communicate with one another wirelessly; they know when they’re next to one another, and which side is against which side. (They don’t have to be touching; they can just be close.)

Second, they have very sensitive tilt sensors. Third, the top screen is clickable.

These three simple ideas, in combination, permit a huge range of games. In one, you guide a cartoon critter along a path by tipping his cube so that he slides onto the next one. In another, you unscramble words by sliding the tiles into the right order on the table. In another, you can click a screen to advance to the next game level.

David also did a silly little video to explain the basics of Sifteo. You can also find out more about the company’s thinking behind the product and its possible applications via their blog. They’ve shown their system, as it was being developed, at several Maker Faires.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.