Every year, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), premieres some of the world’s most innovative ideas in the consumer technology industry. It brings together participants from over 130 countries, representing over 2,000 corporations. Some of the best products of the year debut at CES and today we’re excited to share one in particular that could change the way we play games and more importantly – how we interact with one another.
Sifteo is a start-up company that has a rather ambitious goal in mind: to change the future of play, by incorporating what’s best about the past. We spoke with the co-founder of Sifteo, David Merrill and consultant, Kathy DeLeon, about how the Sifteo cubes harken back to a time where play happened around and with objects, as opposed to staring at them and interacting with them remotely.
David and his team started the process of making the Sifteo cubes by thinking about what non-digital games were like. Traditional games revolve around game pieces that players hold and interact with. Games played with dominos, cards and other objects have long been a part of human history. The time-tested formula of sitting down and interacting with game pieces was the inspiration and the starting point for the Sifteo journey. From there they explored what is interesting about digital games. We all know that digital games are dynamic and highly interactive, but as immersive as these games are, they sometimes lack face-to-face interaction. Even if we’re engaging in a two-player game together, we are usually focused on a screen and not on each other. The Sifteo team wanted a way to merge both traditions, the tactile and interactive, and create a whole new gameplay experience.
They began creating a product that would be fun for all ages – like the Nintendo Wii. Their goal was to have the platform be innovative, compelling and appeal to the game enthusiast and early adopter crowd. At the same time, they wanted the experience to be casual and social while bringing in a wider audience. Interestingly, they found that in play tests with parents and children, the adults took a huge liking to the device. The Sifteo team learned that parents saw it as something that would act as an alternative to traditional digital games and help them worry less about “screen time”. Parents could interact with their children’s gameplay in a way that was non-disruptive and more collaborative, which is a huge departure from blockbuster console or PC games.
Educators want to get their hands on the Sifteo cubes as well (in fact, so many people wanted to get their hands on the cubes, that Sifteo actually filled all their early registration slots at CES). Since their debut, a handful of educators have been looking to test out Sifteo and collaborate with the gaming device in the classroom. The team at Sifteo is happy to hear the requests, especially from parents and educators who work with children with special needs. They are fully aware of how their product can have a real impact on education. Also, while not fully implemented yet, Sifteo plans to allow users to author or program their own games into the Sifteo platform.
The Sifteo cubes will be available in the Fall of 2011. The standard kit comes with 3 cubes, a charging dock and the wireless USB transmitter required for use. You can find out more about Sifteo cubes by visiting their website.