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A completely different technological approach for smart cubes

Wish Lin

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Jun 18, 2019
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Disclaimer---Please don't take this concept to commercial use without my notice! Also, I later found that I don't actually "own" the idea in the first place(See RFID RSSI indoor localization), but I am the first one to put it together with speedcubing.

This is a concept I came up recently that just may be the future of smartcubes:

Exciting things this technology could/might achieve
  • The system can be installed to ALL STICKERLESS CUBES WITH A HOLLOW EDGE(Probably most people's mains by now), so you can make your main a smart cube!
  • A smartcube that doesn't need charging at all!
  • Considerably cheaper(I hope so....)than smart cubes nowadays like the Gan 356i or GoCube.
  • The system can (only theoretically)be implanted to all twisty puzzles(smart 4x4 ,smart 5x5, smart skewb, etc)!

Technical Details

This technology relies on passive RFID chips, which will be installed in the 12 edges of the cube(9 at least), and since the chips are passive, you don't need to charge the cube at all, it's just like a regular cube.

For anyone who wants to recommend alternatives, make sure the technology uses passive chips(if not,totally fine, the only limit is no battery) and has a HUGE signal strength gradient over a small distance. The bigger the gradient is, the better.

Current Design
This design is straightforward and should have a high success rate, but has the down side of squeezing your turning space into a box, and the box is harder to carry around. This particular design only works for 3x3.
box design.png
We have a box surrounding the cube, as shown in the picture, with the small spheres representing the 8 RFID emitters/receivers. Now, since the signal strength from the emitters will decrease when the distance between it and the chips increases(signal strength is inversely proportional to distance squared), we need each chip to return two key information to the receiver: the chip's ID number and the signal strength it gets from each particular emitter.

Let's consider only one chip for now. In total, each of the 8 receivers will get a value from the chip of it's own signal strength THAT IS DETECTED BY THE CHIP, in these eight values, there will be two value that are the highest(strongest signal), which will be the two closest to the edge, as shown in the picture, thus we can know where the edge is. (In the picture, the blue edge is closest to the two blue receivers and red edge closest to the red receivers, so the chip will detect the strongest signal from them)
box design 2.png
The same process is repeated on each of the 12 chips for every couple of milliseconds. When the cube turns, these values change, and by calculating these changes, we can locate each and every edge's movement, thus detecting the turns. 9 is the smallest amount of edge needed to have chips in them because for every move you make, at least one edge with a chip needs to be in that layer for the turn to be detected.(Tell me if I need to explain in detail)

Please post your thoughts about this below! Any technical thoughts(help!), usability problems and also, constructive criticism are very welcomed.
 
Last edited:

xyzzy

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Dec 24, 2015
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I think 5 emitters will be plenty, but I am not sure AT ALL, since I know almost nothing about triangle location.
If you can (exactly) measure the distance of a chip from two emitters, that restricts its location to the intersection of two spheres, which is a circle. With three emitters, you can narrow that down to (at most) two points: one above the plate, one below. (If your emitters are exactly coplanar, then it can't possibly distinguish what's above the plate from what's below, but I expect this shouldn't be a problem if you just slap a "THIS SIDE UP" label on one of the sides.)

However, if all we know is the relative distance (something like "the distance to emitter A is half that to emitter B, but we don't know the exact distances"), then we need an extra emitter to handle the extra degree of freedom, so four emitters would be needed. Either way, five emitters is more than the bare minimum needed, and the redundancy could serve as a way of improving location accuracy.

See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_range_multilateration

Disclaimer: I also know nothing about the hardware required for this to work, so I might be completely misunderstanding how the RFID chips or whatever really work. Naïvely, I'd expect interference from the different emitters to be a significant problem.
 
Last edited:

Wish Lin

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Disclaimer: I also know nothing about the hardware required for this to work, so I might be completely misunderstanding how the RFID chips or whatever really work. Naïvely, I'd expect interference from the different emitters to be a significant problem.
Yes, that could be a problem(thought I am also not sure) So I am thinking doing the emits/receives one by one between a small time interval to prevent them from interfering each other.
 

Wish Lin

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Small update: The chips doesn’t necessarily need to be passive. They can be active as well, just replace the batteries with wireless charging coils(if possible)

Also, if the chip has a huge RESPONSE TIME DIFFERENCE when distance between it and the receiver changes, that should work as well.
 

Etotheipi

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Mar 21, 2019
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under your bed.
Yes, that could be a problem(thought I am also not sure) So I am thinking doing the emits/receives one by one between a small time interval to prevent them from interfering each other.
To minimize interference you could just have each chip work on a different frequency.
 
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The FitnessGram Pacer Test is a multi stage...
Wait a second, is it a good idea to take this article down before I finish writing the patent? Seems like this can actually be a valuable technology judging from you guys’ replies.
dunno. I think of the cubing community as a community first and foremost. I wouldn’t worry about it too much but if you want to feel free
 

Wish Lin

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Wow just write a patent asap.
Don't rely on promises
I want to! But let’s first make sure this actually can be a thing ASAP before I write the patent XD
dunno. I think of the cubing community as a community first and foremost. I wouldn’t worry about it too much but if you want to feel free
When I was filling in the patent forms today, I figured some really important things out:

First, after asking myself, I found I am not actually hoping to make any money out of this. I only want the cubing community to improve and be more interesting.

The only reason I want to have a patent is to add this to my interviewing information when I am applying for college in the future without the concern of someone claiming this idea from me.(I am 15 currently and yes, this will work really, really well according to my teachers)

But I believe that speedsolving.com and the cubing community in general won’t do something like that, and even if someone does do it, good people who have seen this thread would testify for me.(Again, the ONLY thing I want is for everyone to know that I, Wish Lin, is the first one to come up with this idea. That’s it. Nothing more)

Second, while filling out the patent form, I found that it needs a COMPLETELY WORKING thing with all the exact technical details to be able to apply. And to be honest.....I can write almost nothing.

These details include a suitable passive-chip technology, how to deal with interference problems, foreseeable future problems include data processing, cube rotation animation, UI for laptop and smartphone........I CAN’T DO ALL OF THAT. My only contribution here is first to come up with the idea, the rest of this project will have to be completed with the assistance of all the wonderful and experienced people here. Judging from this perspective, it’s wrong for me to single handily owning the patent.

So, I decided not to patent this thing. This project will be open-sourced and everyone can enjoy and develop it(Also this looks better in college application than patented XD). My only request is to give me a credit when PUBLISHING or SELLING anything related to this. Now let’s together make this a reality!

Ps: I removed design 2 as it is far to theoretical and can only be started after design 1 is complete. It is also my backup idea in case someone out there actually has the patent of design 1 before me(who knows?)
 
Last edited:

Wish Lin

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Update: The suitable technology has been found: It’s called RSSI, and I found most modern UHF RFID systems probably have it!

I’ll update again when I know more about it and comes up with a detailed plan.
 

Wish Lin

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Jun 18, 2019
Messages
497
Location
Taipei, Taiwan
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2018LINW02
Update:

1. I found that the idea of using RFID RSSI is not new to the world and has been developed under the name of "indoor RFID RSSI localization" for YEARS.
But still, The exact detail and technology varies quite a bit and I am the first one to put the idea together with speedcubing.

2. NEED SOME HELP HERE: I am having trouble finding which reader to buy that can return RSSI values. The ones I found now are either readers for 1m+ applications that has an RSSI accuracy of +-10cm, which is not going to work, or readers that cost $200 per reader. Please suggest me one if you somehow know one!

Impossible to use readers I found:
  • Mifare MFRC522 ------ No RSSI
  • Cottonwood reader -------- Expensive
  • AC3992 ------- Expensive
 
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