Augmented Rubik’s Cube

Over a year ago, I posted about Julian Oliver’s Cube AR game, where tilting and rotating the cube would lead to movements by the small game figure, projected over the cube, as if it were inside of it. A great concept for an AR game – to be frank, still one of the most compelling, talking about Webcam-based AR. It’s just so intuitive and stable, you have a full haptic feedback and you get a perfect overlay fitting to that haptics, since the AR cube is always as big as the real one. Kudos again! :-)

Now I’ve encountered another AR Cube concept, where I’m not so 100% sure about the rules yet, but it also uses tilts of the cube to move an avatar. But here comes the most interesting twist: the Cube is actually a Rubik’s cube (or Magic Cube, etc. – don’t want to start a war on copyrights), with printed markers to each field. Once you turn the cube elements, you will affect the projected gaming world. Good concept.

Unfortunately I don’t understand much about the rules in the youtube video (Imagine Cup interview doesn’t reveal too much either), hopefully we get more information on it. The first part, moving by tilting, is a bit slow, but the second part has really great potential with an awesome input device – if combined well with the story. It gives me the idea of searching for (natural) sources below the surface (the surface projected, the “drilling” done by your hands below the green (But this might be a bit off, thinking of the OLPC donation. ;) )), somehow combined with a memory game of three-in-a-row. It seems like a really neat idea, but compared to Julian Oliver’s idea I think a bit of potential might get lost. I would prefer to see the action happen again inside the cube or somehow around it, but still see the physical cube completely. Otherwise (like here) you start acting blindfolded. A brain/riddle game where the patterns have to be rotated according to the projected VR scenario would have a bigger impact, imho. A more intense mixing of the two realities – not hiding the real world – would bring an interesting twist into it. It could even become an AR Rubik’s cube solution walkthrough for the lazy. ;)

But that’s just another option. Right now, AR is not really used for augmentation here, but rather as an input device (which has a great approach!). You don’t see the on-top markers and the lower ones are partially covered by your hands. So it’s getting tricky to track. A visual analysis of all small cubes would be great, maybe even handling hand-occlusion correctly, having scanned the cube once, allowing for a full cube magic game. I’ll definitely check back on this one. :-)

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