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Sifteo cubes promise revolutionary tabletop gameplay

Sifteo cubes, in development for more than two years, promise a revolutionary way for adults and kids to play tabletop games.

Sifteo cubes, which are scheduled to go on sale this Fall, interact with each other wirelessly. Sifteo

LAS VEGAS--After being demonstrated as a concept almost two years ago at the TED conference, Sifteo cubes are gradually making their way toward becoming actual, shipping products.

Today, as the fledgling company got ready to demo the product at CES, it announced that it would soon be launching an Early Access Program that would give consumers the opportunity to buy its much-anticipated interactive cubes at a discounted price before they go on sale nationally in the fall.

Just what are Sifteo cubes? Well, that's a little difficult to explain, but they're basically a form of digital interactive tiles or blocks that respond to each other wirelessly. Think of them as 21st-century dominoes.

Sifteo co-founders David Merrill and Jeevan Kalanithi, who first came up with the prototype for the cubes when studying human-computer interaction at the MIT Media Lab, say that "Sifteo cubes are a brand-new way to play games using wireless 1.5-inch blocks with full-color screens that respond to motion and start interacting with the player and each other, as soon as they are picked up and moved around."

To play with Sifteo cubes, you have to first install Sifteo's software (Mac or Windows) onto an Internet-connected computer and then buy games and apps from Sifteo's online library, which is accessible through the software. The games are then downloaded wirelessly to the cubes via a USB wireless link. For the best performance, the company says users should play within a few feet of the USB wireless link (about 20 feet is the maximum range).

Sifteo's initial collection of titles will include games for adults, learning puzzles for kids, and games people can play together. The company will launch its Early Access Program in the next few months. You'll be able to join the program for a discounted price of $99 (normally $149) and receive the Sifteo pack: three cubes with a charging dock, a USB wireless link, and an AC adapter, plus 1,000 points to purchase games and apps from the online store. You can also buy anything in the Sifteo store (up to $200) for 50 percent off until June 30.

We'll have more photos and video once we get a full demo of the cubes on the floor of CES. For now, you can check out this video Sifteo just released.