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"Smart" timers and the future of competition timing?

artless1der

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Joined
Feb 8, 2020
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3
seems to me more realistic (and logical) for any timer system to START when you physically pick up the
cube and then STOP when you cease contact with the cube (or the cube is no longer in motion) smtcw
B-)
 

zslane

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Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
67
Detecting that the cuber has stopped their solve is a little trickier because the mechanism would have to be able to tell the difference between someone who has decided to stop solving and someone who is just taking their time figuring out what to do next. I suppose you could try to establish reasonable timeout values for each kind of puzzle.

However, for competition in particular, I think it would be better for the system to keep the clock running until either the cube is in a solved state or the "reset" button is pressed on the scoring app. If a cube is "mostly solved" but for a misaligned last layer, it would be up to the cuber to fix that, taking whatever time it takes to do so, rather than incurring a flat +2s penalty for stopping with the cube in a non-solved state.

Yes, this would slightly alter the way a competition solve is timed, but I think it would be far cleaner and more accurate. And I don't think it would take very long for everyone to get used to it. It didn't take very long for chess players to get used to clocks, and that was a far more dramatic change to the pace and character of a game/match.
 

I'm A Cuber

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Jan 28, 2020
Messages
358
What about other events? How are we going to make a smart clock? Or smart squan? Or a smart 7x7?
 

Sub1Hour

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Yes, this would slightly alter the way a competition solve is timed, but I think it would be far cleaner and more accurate. And I don't think it would take very long for everyone to get used to it. It didn't take very long for chess players to get used to clocks, and that was a far more dramatic change to the pace and character of a game/match.
Slightly? Being able to hold the cube in any grip you want to start would cut serious time off your solves once you get to a high enough level. It wouldn't take too long for people to get used to it, sure, but it also makes previous records in events like 2x2 irrelevant since the time you spend picking up and dropping the cube takes up a very large portion of sub-1 solves in pyra, 2x2, or skewb. The major problem with stackmat times isn't that they aren't clean or accurate, its timer resets. I personally think that if we switched to YJ timers or if speedstacks adapted the button placement to be similar to the YJ timer that would solve the big issue with stackmats without changing the timing method entirely. Smart cubes and smart camera timers are also extremely expensive compared to regular stackmats. A speedstacks timer only costs around 20 bucks, while a smart cube can cost over 90 dollars.
What about other events? How are we going to make a smart clock? Or smart squan? Or a smart 7x7?
Chris Tran made software that can turn any 3x3 into a smart cube by using a camera to detect the stickers on the cube. Just adapt the software that Chris already made and boom, there you go. This is, however, quite expensive and IMO unnecessary to have at a competition since stackmat timers have been used for nearly 20 years with the only issue being resets, which I mentioned could be fixed if we use YJ timers that have the reset and off buttons on the side and not the front.
 

I'm A Cuber

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Jan 28, 2020
Messages
358
Chris Tran made software that can turn any 3x3 into a smart cube by using a camera to detect the stickers on the cube. Just adapt the software that Chris already made and boom, there you go. This is, however, quite expensive and IMO unnecessary to have at a competition since stackmat timers have been used for nearly 20 years with the only issue being resets, which I mentioned could be fixed if we use YJ timers that have the reset and off buttons on the side and not the front
What if you had two centers unsolved on the side the camera can’t see?
 

zslane

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Jul 8, 2020
Messages
67
Being able to hold the cube in any grip you want to start would cut serious time off your solves once you get to a high enough level.
I'm not sure what you mean by "being able to hold the cube in any grip you want to start." Why would that be a necessary element of competition with smart cubes? Why not allow 15 seconds of inspection, just like now, followed by putting the cube down and hands on the table. And then, when ready, grabbing the cube and starting the solve. This is no different than what happens with a stackmat. What differs is when the clock starts and stops, that's all.

It also makes previous records in events like 2x2 irrelevant since the time you spend picking up and dropping the cube takes up a very large portion of sub-1 solves in pyra, 2x2, or skewb.
I'm not convinced that preserving the legacy of previous records is as important as evolving the events and the technology available to them. It's no different than not worrying about the legacy of previous records prior to the introduction of magnets or the allowing of stickerless cubes. Every few years something comes along that changes (usually improves) solve times. This would be no different in that regard.
 

Sub1Hour

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I'm not sure what you mean by "being able to hold the cube in any grip you want to start." Why would that be a necessary element of competition with smart cubes? Why not allow 15 seconds of inspection, just like now, followed by putting the cube down and hands on the table. And then, when ready, grabbing the cube and starting the solve. This is no different than what happens with a stackmat. What differs is when the clock starts and stops, that's all.
If you're putting your hands down on the table like it were a stackmat, then why switch in the first place? If the clock starts when you take your hands off the table, then you should just use a stackmat since its cheaper. If it starts when you move the cube, you can get an advantageous grip that gives you an edge you shouldn't have against competitors of the past.
I'm not convinced that preserving the legacy of previous records is as important as evolving the events and the technology available to them. It's no different than not worrying about the legacy of previous records prior to the introduction of magnets or the allowing of stickerless cubes. Every few years something comes along that changes (usually improves) solve times. This would be no different in that regard.
Yes, it would. You don't need good hardware to get good times, plenty of people could theoretically get the world record average on a Guhong, good hardware just helps you get there, its not a requirement. If its apparently "No Different" when why does the WCA allow people to use different cubes but not allow people to start on different hand placements on the timer? Some large time improvements come from hardware advancements, but outside of the Qiyi square-1, and Hays 7, the other jumps just came from new waves of cubers or improvement in methods/individuals. It's also different since its an unnatural change. Cubing hardware improving is natural, but getting a sudden .2-.3 second drop in your times just because you no longer have to start from a standardized grip is not natural. Hardware is also different since its extremely subjective. People like different hardware and different hardware suits, different people. Starting while gripping the cube gives everyone an advantage immediately, unlike new hardware.
 

zslane

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Jul 8, 2020
Messages
67
If it starts when you move the cube, you can get an advantageous grip that gives you an edge you shouldn't have against competitors of the past.
...
Starting while gripping the cube gives everyone an advantage immediately, unlike new hardware.
Ah, I see what you mean. Interesting point. Yes, if the starting grip contributes that significantly to the solve time, then smart cubes would have to evolve so that they can detect when haptic contact is made, kinda like a touchpad. I would agree that such technology will probably never make it into cubes.
 

zslane

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Jul 8, 2020
Messages
67
why does the WCA allow people to use different cubes...?
Presumably because the WCA defines their contests as determining the "Best cuber+cube combination" rather than simply "Best cuber". They are entirely free to decide what their contests are actually measuring, but I can't help but think that the competitions would be more valid contests of pure cubing skill if everyone was forced to use the same hardware, set up the same way.

But I guess speedcubing is a little like bowling or golf in that you are allowed to use your own hardware so long as it conforms to certain, somewhat liberal, regulations, and that part of speedcubing is knowing how to optimally set up your cube for competition.
 

zslane

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Jul 8, 2020
Messages
67
Smart cubes don't really need to worry about +2. If the timer just keeps running until the cube is solved (with no partially turned layers), then cubers have the responsibility of making sure the final turn is complete, however long it takes them to do that. It wouldn't be 2 seconds, but it wouldn't be zero seconds either.
 

SnowyDay

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Joined
Dec 5, 2016
Messages
18
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.
You could also use your stack mat timer with the smart cube. Although that is another layer of stuff to deal with which just makes it a bit more difficult to motivate yourself.
 

SnowyDay

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Dec 5, 2016
Messages
18
Smartcube development is close to realisation. I think it could revolutionize training and provide fun 24/7 networked competition. The online chess apps are a blast even for novices.

However, I see a few major hurdles with smartcubes in competition:

- Price.
- Intellectual property rights. (Likely) would force everyone to one or just a few cubes.
- Reliability. Higher failure rates of the cubes and timing. Reliance on battery charge.

Ultimately, there are timing issues with the stack mat timer. Some is unavoidable, some can be optimised by the cuber. For longer solves, these issues migth become less relevant (I think but am not 100% convinced)...
 
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