Hands-on review: GoCube Edge
For forty years, I’ve been trying to solve my Rubik’s cube. In that time, the only way I’ve managed to get all the sides of the cube to match is by dismantling the whole thing. Enter GoCube and their GoCube Edge smart cube.
The device’s interesting box opens to reveal the nicely packaged kit. Inside is is a puzzle cube, similar to the original Rubik’s Cube, but with rounded corners, a USB-powered display/charger, and a cloth protective bag.
At first glance, the GoCube seems nothing no more than a fancy-looking cube that lights up if you mount it in its USB display holder. But, inside the cube is an array of sensors that can orientate the cube along 6-axis. It can also work out the current configuration of the cube. The cube also has Bluetooth connectively up to 10m.
The cube’s rounded edges and positive feel (courtesy of 48 magnets) make it the most comfortable and easy to twist puzzle cube you are ever likely to try. The real meat of the device, however, is only apparent when paired with a mobile device running the GoCube app.
After downloading and signing up to the app I paired my phone to the cube. The app has an assortment of tools and games to mess with. I went straight for the Solver tool. I wanted to finally beat Rubik’s bloody cube after four decades spent cursing it.
The solver tool asks you to align the real GoCube, with the white centre on the top and the green centre at the front, to match the orientation of the cube on the app. My first go was a bit of a catastrophe, as the pattern on the cube did not match the pattern on the app. I’m not sure if this is the usual way to sort things out, but using the intuitive app I was easily able to calibrate the physical cube with the 3D representation on my phone. From here on it was plain sailing.
Holding the messed-up cube in front of me, orientated the same way as the 3D image on my phone, I was able to follow the instructed combination of turns in the app. These instructions matched, intelligently, with those of my real GoCube – correcting me if I made an error. After a surprisingly short amount of time, the cube in my hand was solved and lit up, celebrating my success. I’d needed help, but finally, after many attempts since 1980, I solved a Rubik’s Cube by my own hands and without ACTUALLY cheating.
My next step was to select the academy in the app. Here the app actually teaches you how to solve the cube using the required algorithms.
I’ve spent 40 years marvelling at supposed geniuses solving cubes blindfolded, standing on their heads, submerged in tanks of water etc. In reality, all that’s needed to solve a Rubik’s Cube is a simple set of turn sequences, algorithms, each broken down into memorable annotated clockwise and anticlockwise twists of the left, right, front, back, top and bottom. The clockwise turns represented by L, R, F, B, U & D. Anti-clockwise twists are suffixed with a ‘, giving us L’, R’, F’, B’, U’ & D’.
The app’s academy mode breaks all this down and, with the help of videos, teaches you how to solve the cube. On completion of the exercises, the app awards the student with a certificate and points you in the direction of Facebook for bragging rights.
Not only can the GoCube app teach you how to solve a Rubik’s Cube yourself to astound all your fellow Gen X friends, but the app is also packed with other activities.
To be fair, the GoCube is not really aimed at allowing forty-somethings to finally solve Rubik’s Cubes and put the 1980s behind them. It’s an intelligent STEM toy for kids. It’s something that’ll exercise their brains unlike most of the rubbish that they usually consume via mobile devices.
The app has an assortment of cube-related games, some of which are just a bit of fun, others of which are aimed at drilling the solution algorithms into the user. Many of the fun games revolve around interpreting cube moves to make music, play a game of Simon Says, make patterns and even use the cube as a controller for an old-school weighted ball maze game.
There are also several competitions and leaderboards for players to compete against for the fasted cube solving time. You can even enter into the Red Bull Rubik’s Cube World Cup! The app keeps a log of all your solves. You can check your solve time, moves and turns per second.
At its heart, the GoCube wants to teach kids the power of problem-solving and exercise their memories. Both of these traits are required to solve a Rubik’s cube. It’s an amazing piece of kit that upgrades the genius of Ernő Rubik’s enduring puzzle cube in a way that makes it accessible to all.
As an owner of an original (uncompleted) Rubik’s cube, I loved playing with the GoCube. Similarly, my eleven-year-old, also could not put the puzzle down. This is the perfect gift for a child or adult, alike, that enjoys puzzles and would appreciate this modern spin on the Rubik’s Cube.