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Thinking Outside of the Blocks

One of the 2009 TED conference presentations that is making a splash was delivered by MIT grad student David Merrill, who demoed Siftables, a new form of interactive device developed by Taco Lab. They're a little difficult to describe, so you should watch the seven-minute presentation yourself. I dare you not to be amazed.

Of course, the first thing that struck me about this design was the level of play that is baked into it. They beg to be fondled, and their simplicity means never needing to read a user manual. After all, who hasn't played with blocks at some point in her life? Then again, my blocks never did the kinds of things Siftables are capable of.

The more I thought about it, though, the more of a sense of déjà vu I felt. It seemed both so new yet so familiar. Then I remembered something I'd posted here back in the blog's infancy. What's so wonderful about Taco Lab's design is how much simpler, elegant, and childlike it is. Yet like all thing so seemingly simple and obvious, it conceals great power.

Imagine what could happen if/once app developers get their hands on the kernel to program something like these blocks or whatever other devices spawn from their development. The future of digital devices is hidden somewhere in Siftables.

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