Thinking with Things, Today!

Whereas much of this is conjecture, there are a handful of organizations exploring some basic ways to make learning both tangible and digital.

Sifteo Cubes

The most popular of these technologies is, of course, the Sifteo Cubes (see Figure 5-5). Announced at the February 2009 TED conference, these “toy tiles that talk to each other” have opened the doors to new kinds of play and interaction. Each cube, aside from having a touchscreen, has the added ability to interact with other cubes based on its proximity to a neighboring cube, cube configurations, rotation, and even orientation and gesture. In various games, players essentially reposition blocks to create mazes, roll a (virtual) ball into the next block, and do any number of other things accomplished by interacting with these blocks the way you would dominoes. They’ve been aptly described as “alphabet blocks with an app store.” Commenting on what Sifteo Cubes represent, founder Dave Merrill has said “What you can expect to see going forward are physical games that really push in the direction of social play.”

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