Rubik's Cube for the blind


via Yanko Design


  1. They should have kept the colors. That way it could be used whether you’re blind or sighted.

  2. I’ve forgotten more group theory than I ever learned, does the fact that each square has a propper orientation make it even harder to solve? Or is there no difference at all?

    1. Yes – it is harder to solve than a regular cube because of the need to get the centre squares in the correct orientation. Six times harder I think. Just like the promotional cubes with a picture on one or more of the sides.

    2. this does actually make it harder to solve because the center squares rotate as you are solving the cube. we dont observe this with just the colors.

      1. It is NO different to solve in terms of the mechanism inside the cube. The centre squares NEVER move only the edge squares move. The only difference here is the markings (braille) on the squares. You could mark it up with dots or anything as long as each side has a distinct marking. Keep on cubing!

    3. If you want all the braille on each face to line up in the same orientation, it is harder to solve.
      But you could solve it without care to orientation of the lettering, and it would be the same difficulty as a normal 3×3 cube

    4. The orientation lines make no difference. If you were to mark a standard Rubik’s Cube with the same lines, you’d find that when it is solved, they’re always oriented the same way. There’s only one solution to the cube, as the six ‘center’ squares of each color do not change position (relative to each other).

    5. No, as each squares position is determined by the adjoining edge pieces. So, even on a normal coloured cube, even though a square may appear to have no orientation, it actually does based on the adjoining colour.

      Although, this is only true for the 3×3.

    6. Solving the cube regularly will correctly orient all the pieces except the six middle faces; it is possible to orient them correctly if I remember correctly.

    7. No difference for edges and corners. However the centers can be rotated in any fashion (but in pairs I think). So yes, if you count the orientation of the centers, it is harder. However there are of course algorithms somewhere to rotate centers.

  3. Great idea, lousy execution. How about six different textures, rather than having to read each panel?

  4. They should have kept the colors. That way it could be used whether you’re blind or sighted.

    What’s stopping you from learning Braille?

  5. And despite the literal (I assume) interpretations of the color names in braille, one dot on one side, two dots on the next, etc. would probably be easier to navigate/differentiate, and would also make more sense for non-English-speakers, or those who don’t know braille… and why “pink” instead of orange?

  6. Does anyone read braille? Because the side facing me isn’t the name of any colour that I can tell…

  7. I was going to complain that the Braille wasn’t spelling anything sensible:

    but now I see that the artist speaks German.
    it’s hard to tell what character set Braille is in (it’s more like ASCII than like Unicode)

  8. A Rubik’s cube really made for the blind, instead of as a gimmick, should have six different textures that are easily distinguished at a moments touch. (eg: smooth, sandpaper, ridged, sticky, dimpled, squishy/soft)

    The regular Rubik’s cube doesn’t have words or letters on it, it has colors that are easily distinguished at a moments glance.

    1. Doesn’t your critique imply that Braille readers can’t quickly distinguish Braille characters at a moment’s touch? I don’t know Braille, but I’d assume that those proficient in it would find it as natural to identify the words as a sighted person reading text or recognizing a color.

  9. There’s also 1-color cubes where the sides are distinguished by depth from the center, rather than color or texture. I don’t know how practical they are for the blind, but they’re good for the colorblind, and for cubing in low-lighting situations. It makes it more apparent that you’re actually solving the cube by layers rather than by matching colored sides, though someone who’s used to colors will need a while to get used to a new way of recognizing pieces.

    I’ve bought two such cubes from DealExtreme. Strangely, the $5 gold cube handles better than the $30 silver cube I’d originally bought, as the mechanism seems more elastic, so that’s the one I’m linking.

  10. I totally agree with simonbarsinister. This is practically saying, “ooo! Braille is crazy and weird!” It isn’t. If the Rubiks cube for sighted people was all white and you had to read the colors constantly on each side, would you play with it?

    I’m no stick in the mud, but I don’t like things that take stabs (no matter how innocent) at a population that is getting less than a 10% education learning to read in American schools. Braille is easy to use and we should be teaching it to everyone who needs or wants to learn it. It isn’t Braille’s fault it happens to look so bitchin’.

  11. If I may–reading a text, yes. Absolutely. But would you want to play with a white rubik’s cube with the names of the colors just written in small print on each block? It would slow down your getting at the information. Plus, those cubes turn all different directions once they get going. You’d have to flip them around to read them.

  12. I also noticed that, while a proper letter “b” is DOTS-12, the character shown after “gev” is DOTS-45 — note the gap.

  13. When Rubik’s Cubes first came out my sister modified one for a blind friend. Like Anon @3 and SimonBarSinister suggest, she used patches of sandpaper, felt, smooth plastic, etc.

  14. Six different textures -could- wear out over time. Proper braille would most likely be far more durable.

  15. Anon #2: Yes, a cube with each square having a proper orientation will have more combinations, and is therefore harder to solve. You can solve a cube except for orientation. If you do this, and look at a side, then the 8 edge squares will always be the right way up. The center square can be in any orientation.

    In practice, this means that you have to know 2 more moves in order to rotate the center squares. Not a difficult bump for anyone who can already solve the cube.

  16. This reminds me of that great scene from the awesome Weird Al movie: UHF. I could describe it, but a video is worth a thousand words:

  17. Any chance you could modify the alt text for the image to something a little more descriptive?

  18. I’d like to point out, as many have, that:
    – this cube is not very usable – the faces feel too similar
    – …additionally, not all blind people know Braille
    – sighted people would not be able to use the cube easily

    Here’s my offering, made in 2002 (but posted just now!) which addresses some of these very issues:

    In addition, there’s enough information there to easily make your own. Very easily! Like, “a single trip to OSH/Lowe’s” easy.

  19. I have virtually zero knowledge about braille but I would think that it would have to read the same way every time, whats left to right on this cube?

  20. I’ve long thought that a tactile rubick’s cube would make a great toy for octopuses. I’ve never managed to solve one myself, but if a braille user can do it, more power to them!
    Sighted people can easily use the braille cube-they just have to look at the dots. If that takes a bit longer to process the first few times, they’ll figure it out fast enough.

  21. Actually, the center squares of a Rubik’s cube don’t move or rotate at all, and the orientation of the other squares is fixed as well (not necessarily at any one time, but when any one square is in its correct place it can only have one orientation). This cube is no different to solve than a normally colored cube.

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