Gadgets

Self-rolling LED 'Boogie Dice' light up a roomful of nerds

CNET's Michael Franco brings a most unusual pair of dice, now raising funds on Kickstarter, to a most unusual place.

Michael Franco/CNET

If I ever get too lazy to roll my own dice, it's truly time to put me out to pasture.

That's what I thought when I was first approached about reviewing a prototype pair of "Boogie Dice," six-sided cubes now on Kickstarter that roll themselves in response to noise. Then I got the dice and started playing around with them.

While the dice can replace any six-siders in games you may already own, the real benefit of Boogie Dice is that specific games will be made for them. You change the way the dice bounce and roll, and how long they stay lit, with sounds such as clapping your hands, snapping your fingers or even shouting or banging on a table.

Using an accompanying app, different behaviors can be programmed into the dice, such as to getting them to "stop listening" during random periods of time.

My prototype pack included a look at the cards created for the first game, Bots Battleground. It looks promising, but I only had the prototype and couldn't actually play since the game requires a specially designed die.

I did, however, take the dice to Camp Nerd Fitness, a fun adult wellness weekend I recently attended in the mountains of Georgia.

Knowing no one there but feeling bold, I decided to break out the dice one evening after dinner. Lots of fellow nerds gathered round and instantly had a blast yelling, clapping and hitting the table to get the dice to roll. We never got to playing a specific game with them, but we didn't really need to. It turns out watching self-rolling dice can be entertainment enough.

I'll be taking the dice on the road again this weekend for a reunion with some high school buddies, and I'm sure we'll be devising a drinking game or two with them.

Inside each die is a vibration motor, a tiny microphone and a microprocessor. The dice come with a charging station that lets you juice them through small holes in the side of the dice. There's also a plastic "arena" that attaches to the charging station to keep the dice from bouncing themselves off your table.

The Boogie Dice campaign is charging along nicely, having raised almost twice its initial goal of $50,000. You can get one die of your choice -- including the glow-in-the-dark version -- for $27 (about £17, AU$37); two will cost you $38 (about £25, AU$52). Alternatively, you can get the Bots Battleground game with its specially designed die for $45 (about £29, AU$62). Rewards get more complicated and, of course more expensive, after that.

If the campaign hits $200,000, the makers say they'll include a 20-sided dice with all orders that include the stretch goals. Dice are expected to ship in March 2016.

Unlike other crowdfunding campaigns I've covered, I got to use actual prototypes of this product. It's smart to be cautious when choosing whether to support a crowdfunding campaign, but you might feel more confident giving this one a roll knowing that a working version of the dice has already been manufactured.