In February 2009, David Merrill gave a TED demo of Siftables – a project he was working on at the MIT Media Lab along with Jeevan Kalanithi and Pattie Maes. He described Siftables as “an interactive computer the size of a cookie.” But it’s not just a cute phrase, for it also communicates the approachability and playfulness of the devices.
Well, Siftables are now an actual product — for sale from Sifteo. And the sample games look pretty fun. No word on if Sifteo has an open API so that people can develop their own applications, but hopefully that will be released soon.
The physicality of Siftables lets users engage with content and functionality in a natural way, similar to multi-touch surfaces, but more hands-on and direct — less like using a computer. There are all sorts of possibilities for new UI approaches, and David & Jeevan wrote about their hope to develop one which will be easily learnable, and stand the test of time.