Interface Modularity - Toys and Games lead the way / by Jason Nunes

Cubelets are a fun new modular robotic toy.

The cubelets standard kit comes with 20 magnetic blocks that can be snapped together to make an endless variety of robots with no programming and no wires. You can build robots that drive around on a tabletop, respond to light, sound, and temperature, and have surprisingly lifelike behavior. But instead of programming that behavior, you snap the cubelets together and watch the behavior emerge like with a flock of birds or a swarm of bees.

Cubelets Engineering Prototypes from eric schweikardt on Vimeo.

Sifteo is a cool gaming system that uses mini-movable display modules.

Sifteo cubes are 1.5 inch computers with full-color displays that sense their motion, sense each other, and wirelessly connect to your computer. You, your friends, and your family can play an ever-growing array of interactive games that get your brain and body engaged.

Sifteo’s initial collection of titles includes challenging games for adults, fun learning puzzles for kids, and games people can play together.

Interface modularity seems to be an emerging trend... at least in the toy and game world. Maybe emerging is the wrong word, seeing as Legos have been around since 1916. But with their digital interactive components, Cubletes and Sifteo take modularity a step further.

This has me wondering how this kind of mix and match interface might be applied to other verticals. Media and entertainment? Finance? Programming? What do you think? Is there a need for modular interfaces outside of gaming? Will tablet computers enable something like this, where one person might work on one aspect of a project (in financial reporting, say a video interview with a source), and another might work on another (a data visualization or an info graphic ), and then they will bring them together by simple "plugging" their iPads together? Anything to be gained by this?

What do you think?