Cube is an intuitive, tangible interface for the smart home


By touching, lifting, tilting and turning, Cube allows users to control their smart home appliances.


The clicker, the switcher, the flipper or whatever people are calling it these days, the remote has always been the universal command hub of the household. As more homes become connected, a growing number of our appliances will become intelligent as well. While there are already countless ways to adjust on the smart lights, TV, media player and blinds beyond a mere switch or button, one German design firm has set out to simplify the basic function of controlling these gadgets in the form of a tangible 3D square.

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The brainchild of Family of the Arts, the aptly named Cube is an intuitive interface that allows users to adjust the gizmos by simply touching, lifting, tilting and turning the small black box. Given its compact size, the unit can be moved just about anywhere within the house — whether that’s the kitchen, the living room or even a bedroom. And at night, it fits into the wall to dock and recharge.

The interface itself works through a combination of gestures: Tap to turn it on, flip it until the intended function appears on top, and then turn it right or left to change the controls. For instance, after selecting the thermometer, rotating it clockwise will raise the temperature, while counter-clockwise cools it down. Upon choosing the media player, swiping over the box can skip a song and shaking it can trigger a random track. Meanwhile, sensor hubs are installed in wall sockets to allow Cube to locate and communicate with the nearby appliances via Bluetooth.

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“Cube improves on the existing system in several ways. It retains the practicality of a mobile device such as a smartphone, while eliminating the distracting, anti-social element they often create,” its team writes.

More importantly, Cube addresses the problem often times presented by the complexities of remote controls. The Family of the Arts team explains that their design is meant to complement the way people will live in the home of the future rather than distract them from the experience. That’s because, with just a flip, it can go seamless transition from commanding the lights to the music to the temperature. Heck, it can be quite the mood setter!

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With its tactile functionality and non-technical aesthetics, the gadget provides a simple yet fully-integrated solution that enables anyone to engage with their digital surroundings in a more human-like, tactile manner. At the moment, however, the total number of functions Cube can handle is inherently limited to the six sides of a cube. Intrigued? Watch the mysterious black object in action below.

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