Dice, in one form or another, have been used for thousands of years, in fact “since before recorded history” according to Wikipedia. While manufacturing methods have certainly changed, dice have remained roughly the same throughout the ages. Jean Simonet, however, has ambitiously set out to make something new — a die that lights up depending on the number thrown.
Although this would be a relatively attainable job at a larger scale, Simonet’s design measures just 17mm on a side, compared to standard die that comes in at 16mm. Inside, he’s packed 21 LEDs, an accelerometer to detect motion, and even a Simblee module that combines a microcontroller with a Bluetooth radio and chip antenna. This allows it to not only illuminate with LEDs corresponding to the roll, but communicate with a nearby smartphone as well. With this interface, the die can be preset for certain games, lighting up in custom modes or even resolving competition automatically. It can also be used without a host smart device as drop-in replacements for normal “number-cubes,” but with new effects.
According to Simonet, there’s still a lot of work to do, but as it stands today it’s an incredible feat of 3D printing and careful flexible PCB design to wrap everything in the cube along with a tiny CR-1/3N battery. Future plans include the possibility of RGB lighting, along with further app development, and there’s even a 20-sided die prototype. It will be interesting to see this project’s progress. Code is available on GitHub, and you can sign up on electronic-dice.com to “get notified of future developments.”
This Electronic Die Lights Up and Communicates with Every Roll was originally published in Hackster Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.