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"Smart" timers and the future of competition timing?

zslane

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I've never used a smart cube, so maybe this is already how they work, but given that a smart cube knows when it is being manipulated (i.e., turned), and knows when it is solved, it seems to me that stackmat timers could become artifacts of the past.

Rather than having a timer that starts when your hands leave the pads, and stops when you smack the pads, a smart cube system could begin the timer when it detects the first turn of the cube and only stops when the cube is solved. It seems to me that this would be more accurate, representing true solve time; the brief time added to solve times because of the interaction with the stackmat strikes me as artificial and ultimately unnecessary.

Of course, this requires extremely low turn detection latency, but I assume that is only a matter of (development) time.

Thoughts?
 

ProStar

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Smart cubes already work like this. For competitions it's a great idea, and I believe the WCA has considered it. The problem is that there's so many ways to cheat when a smart cube is used, like watching it get scrambled on your phone. Stuff like that would be very hard to detect but would give you a gigantic advantage
 

zslane

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If digital eavesdropping is a potential issue, then the solution would seem to be to simply encrypt the datastream so that only the official scoring computer can make use of the data.
 

Spacey10

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If digital eavesdropping is a potential issue, then the solution would seem to be to simply encrypt the datastream so that only the official scoring computer can make use of the data.
Well, easier said than done.
That's like recoding an entire section, and still hacker might get in. Its like how maybe hackers can hack bank systems, or hack government things
 

Sub1Hour

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Well, easier said than done.
That's like recoding an entire section, and still hacker might get in. Its like how maybe hackers can hack bank systems, or hack government things
I'm not sure if many cubers are that concerned about their results to literally compromise and enter encrypted databases just to get a PR. I also don't think that smart cubes should be used in the competition period. The WCA could switch to only allowing smart cubes for more accurate timing but that makes older cubes useless in competition. It's a pain that will only make cubes more expensive if the WCA makes you use a smart cube for more accurate timing.
 

BenChristman1

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Well, easier said than done.
That's like recoding an entire section, and still hacker might get in. Its like how maybe hackers can hack bank systems, or hack government things
All you need to do is make scramble protection top priority. Who cares about banks and the government, cubing is way more important!
 

zslane

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The WCA could switch to only allowing smart cubes for more accurate timing but that makes older cubes useless in competition. It's a pain that will only make cubes more expensive if the WCA makes you use a smart cube for more accurate timing.
I guess I'm imagining a world where smart cubes have become the norm, rather than the expensive exception. Obviously I'm talking about some years down the road. But look at how magnets, once an expensive luxury (that I'm assuming weren't WCA-compliant at first), have become ubiquitous and standard.
 
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I guess I'm imagining a world where smart cubes have become the norm, rather than the expensive exception. Obviously I'm talking about some years down the road. But look at how magnets, once an expensive luxury (that I'm assuming weren't WCA-compliant at first), have become ubiquitous and standard.
In general, I think magnets weren't a luxury, they just didn't make enough of them, but smart cubes on the other hand, are actually a luxury.
 
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Mischiiii

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Smartcubes need to go a long way before this can happen. The internals of the Gan356i (best smartcube in my opinion) aren’t perfect. And i rarely use mine because of that. If cubing was a Mainstream hobby there would already be such cubes. But since it’s a small market development won’t be so fast. But one day we might get there. Or maybe comps will use some kind of multi camera system to determine the first turn and the solved state.
 

zslane

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I suppose it is possible that smart cubes will end up being a fad that disappears in relatively short order. However, integration with mobile device apps makes them really useful, to the point where I could see them becoming more and more common, which would help make them more and more affordable, which in turn would make them more common, and so forth. If they do become common (enough), I think one of their more obvious potential benefits is the ability to track solve times more accurately, which is a pretty clear competition benefit.
 

tx789

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Stackmats are cleaner. You have a clear start and end to the solve. Also of we switch timing methods it is unfair. You can't really compare results between smart cubes and stackmats since smart cubes have about an .3 second advantage. Because of this they have to be universally used.
 

brododragon

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That would mean you could only use smart cubes in WCA and then flagships will be like 200 dollars and the weight would be more and if you dropped the cube it could break and the cube cant be in water
@Wish Lin is working on cheap smart cubes that can be made from a normal cube, so would mean you could just convert your main. I do realize, though, that that's probably 5+ years down the road.
 

zslane

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Whenever I see objections to the idea that any technology could become small enough, cheap enough, and widespread enough to lead to major changes in how things are done, I am reminded of the time Tom Watson, the president of IBM said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." He could only imagine computers in terms of what they were at that time. Extrapolating the future by looking at the trajectory of advancements in computers was difficult for him because that trajectory hadn't even begun yet.

However, we've had decades of watching Moore's Law make digital electronics smaller, cheaper, and more capable, so it is puzzling to me that anyone would find it hard to imagine a time when smart cubes have become the norm.
 

ProStar

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That would mean you could only use smart cubes in WCA and then flagships will be like 200 dollars and the weight would be more and if you dropped the cube it could break and the cube cant be in water
OP said he was imagining it in a time where smart cubes had become the norm, which would mean that budget options would be a similar price to budget cubes now, and the flagships similar to the flagship prices now. Also, from what I've heard the Gan 356i V1 is lighter than the Gan 356 X (or whichever one it's based on)
 
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I've never used a smart cube, so maybe this is already how they work, but given that a smart cube knows when it is being manipulated (i.e., turned), and knows when it is solved, it seems to me that stackmat timers could become artifacts of the past.

Rather than having a timer that starts when your hands leave the pads, and stops when you smack the pads, a smart cube system could begin the timer when it detects the first turn of the cube and only stops when the cube is solved. It seems to me that this would be more accurate, representing true solve time; the brief time added to solve times because of the interaction with the stackmat strikes me as artificial and ultimately unnecessary.

Of course, this requires extremely low turn detection latency, but I assume that is only a matter of (development) time.

Thoughts?
I have both the Gan smart cubes. (356i and the iplay). I’ve beaten my pb on both of them because that’s how they work where the software (cubestation) starts it’s timer on first turns. I don’t count my smart cube PB”s as my PB’s though because they weren’t done WCA style with a stack mat timer. I like that we use stack at timers in competition because it’s a part of the complete skill set like picking up the cube well for fast first turns and recognition of a completed solve and fast hands back to the timer skills. I understand what you’re saying though it is literally a more accurate way of determining the time of just the solve but idk I think until it’s done like that in competition it’s not a true “wca solve”
 
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