Futuro Cube lights up tap and turn game challenge fun
By Paul Ridden
April 4, 2013
Before the arrival of those portable computers we like to call smartphones, screen-based games were a relatively simple, though extremely addictive, affair. The Czech Republic's Princip Interactive has taken the essence of classic low-res cellphone games like Tetris or Snake, added a good splash of color and sound, thrown in some challenging physical twists and turns, and created the Futuro Cube.
Don't be fooled by the simple elegance of this little black cube. By spreading gameplay over all six sides, the Futuro Cube adds whole new levels of difficulty to its pre-loaded games, puzzles and brain-teasers. Out of the box, there's an insanely difficult-looking version of Gomoku, a clever take on Tetris called Cubris, and the ever popular Snake is given a whole new lease of life. It would be a waste of a good opportunity if a Rubik-inspired game wasn't included, so Princip has produced the Gravity Puzzle (which you can see demonstrated below).
Each face of the cube has nine RGB LED light modules in a 3 x 3 configuration, with 64 or 255 pulse-width modulation (PWM) steps for each color component to cater for variable brightness and flashing rates. The faces are not touch panels, but the built-in MEMS 3-axis accelerometer is able to determine when a surface has been tapped or turned. The sensors are also able to keep track of which face is pointing up, and register motion and gesture patterns.
The brain of the Futuro Cube is a Cortex M3 ARM-based processor supported by 128 MB of onboard NAND Flash memory. The device runs on a 1 Ah Li-Pol battery that's claimed to offer hours of continuous play, with recharging taking some 2.5 hours over micro USB (which is also used for firmware upgrades and resources upload via Windows/Mac computer). A 2.4 GHz proprietary wireless radio link caters for multi-player fun with other Futuro Cube players up to five meters (16 ft) apart.
The device also throws out 16-bit/22 kHz audio through an included speaker sporting a double output sound canal, which is helped along by a 1 W class-D amplifier and Inter-IC Sound (I2S) digital output.
The folks at Princip are currently working on an SDK for third party developers, and plan to update features and add new games regularly. The Futuro Cube is available now for US$99.99.
Examples of gameplay can be seen in the video overview below.