On haptic Symbols

cuboro Recently I bought me a cuboro standard marble track consisting out of 54 wooden cubes with several holes. They provide 12 different functionalities, e.g. bends, straights, level.-changes, etc.

These haptic modules build some kind of basis for possible marble tracks which can be build.
After a while of happily building different tracks and testing what is possible (and what not) I discovered that although the cubes do not have any haptic connections, such as lego or fisher-technik blocks do have – they have to be put together in the right way to build a valid (read working) marble track.

A Scenario

Take three cubes and place them on your desk like this:


marble track

now, flip the whole aggregate by 90 degree; it seems to be still a valid Marble track.
cubes flipped cubes flipped, view 2 Apart from the fact that the marble will not run through it anymore. At least part number 9 (where the marble is placed on in the last images) seems to be odd having its newly defined input at the wrong position (and with a non-runnable curvature inside). Apart from this, also this flipped track is not usable in a bigger marble track scenario; the connection points are on the wrong places.
What makes me wonder is that it still feel or looks right.
Being not usable in a way is useful – restrictions force creativity – however, the way the limitations in this example are conciliated just feels to be wrong. I think that is, because of the cubes do not haptically inform or forbid to put them together flipped (in contradiction to other brick-building toys). Here it is easy to do things wrong, since it simply does not run correctly in the end.
Having “only” 12 different sorts of cubes available soon makes one feel a bit too limited. Result: at least six months not really using and building tracks.

By experimenting with the cuboro setup I discovered that it is possible to define something perhaps named haptic symbols. Using the language means to combine symbols (wooden cubes) to sentences (tracks) and speak (run a marble in the track). As in other languages, it is nearly impossible to abuse the grounding symbols and still have a valid sentence.

On my birthday some of my friends (many thanx to you all!) made me a birthday present by giving to me a cuboro extension pack (the metro box containing 24 additional cubes with 12 additional functions to the standard set). Yuppie! Having the number of available (known?) symbols doubled means at least the possibility to square the complexity of sentences to speak. Now I speak a lot again.

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