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Cubelets Package Design Contest

Well, the dust has settled on the Cubelets Package design contest over at Modular Robotics (see the entries here).  The contest brief said they wanted the package to be made of recycled materials, that it should be bright and colorful, and to avoid mimicking Apple’s minimalistic white-on-white designs.  The package had to make room for 20 cubelets as well as accessories, and since this is a robotics kit for kids the graphic design should reflect that.  We provided one box design and two graphic design options, but unfortunately they didn’t even make runner-up.  You can see our designs and read the rationale behind them after the break.

“What exactly is a Cubelet?” You may be wondering. Well, they’re small cubic robots that connect together to form bigger robots. Some of them have wheels for moving around, others have sensors for detecting proximity and light. There’s a whole bunch of different types, and the idea is to experiment with different combinations. It’s a pretty cool new robotics kit, as you can see in the following preview video.


The Box Design & Construction

The box construction is like a briefcase

First up you can see the basic design of the box.  It could be made of recycled cardboard (they stressed they wanted it to be eco-friendly), and it has a handle which could be made of recycled plastic.  When closed, you could then carry it like a briefcase.  It is also quite sturdy since the bottom, sides, and top are all doubled-up.

Divider instructions

It has a cardboard insert which separates the cubelets and gives ample room for the wall adapter, car adapter, and battery dock.  The dividers have grooves which make it easier for fingers to reach in and pull out a single cubelet, while simultaneously making room for the knob cubelet which has a large dial protruding out of it.  The drawback to this design is it requires a lot of work to assemble, but it would be nice and strong once it is finished.

The box design changed from this early test render to the finished submission, but gives you the basic idea.

The Graphic Design Options

The graphic design is the 2nd aspect of the contest.  We made sure that however you stacked the boxes, you’d see a colorful line-up of Cubelets logos.  Unfortunately, we can’t see what the winning entry or runner-up have on the back of their boxes, but here you can see the front and back of ours.  We showcased exactly what you’re getting inside the box (which is kind of important for a $300 item), and we provided two distinct graphic options at high resolutions (150 dpi) that could be printed immediately.

Above: how the boxes would be actually printed

Option 1 detail (click to enlarge)

Option 2 detail (click to enlarge)

We felt that option 1 was a bit more sophisticated and techie, while option 2 would be more appealing to kids (their target market).  We provided all of the relevant product information they requested on the back of the box, along with some tag lines from their website.

The battery dock, wall adapter, and car adapter

From our understanding, the contest required that the package accommodate the battery dock, wall adapter, and car adapter.  The contest winner doesn’t appear to have room for them, so from our perspective it should have been disqualified.  The runner-up’s entry seems to have the best idea for the divider – made of molded paper pulp – but it too does not appear to have room for the accessories.  Depending on your point of view, this could be a minor or major issue.

Naturally, we’re disappointed that we didn’t win, but we had fun making our entry.  Losing is the risk you take when entering a design competition. And in the end, we must admit that the winning entry does look pretty snazzy.  We wish everyone over at Modular Robotics the best of luck.

Thanks for looking!

  • @alex

    Remember that the contest wasn’t just about the graphics or pictures on the box, but to design the box itself, too. If you look at the entries, you can see quite a few ideas for how to actually package them.

    As per your other comment, I think there is a place for a kit like this that doesn’t require programming. That way, you can ease them into the process of experimenting with the different functions. It might be easier to get disinterested kids to play with cubelets than Lego mindstorms, for example, because it is a bit simpler and gives immediate feedback.

  • alex

    For the winning box they didn’t even need to make a design contest.
    The things shown in the video could be used on the box -it would be at least something.
    When you think about it it’s not really a robotics kit, more like a electronic kit that can move.
    You can’t program it, everything is preprogrammed and so the possibilities are very very small. It could get quite fast boring and such cube robot doesn’t look very appealing. It could be at least good tech toy for very young kids.
    When you consider that Lego Mindstorms costs circa 300 USD I would consider it as a much better choice with much more possibilities and much more interesting.

  • @alex

    That was something that I had wanted to include on the back or front cover, but unfortunately no high resolution “beauty shots” of the product were provided for me when I requested them on the company’s forum.

    As far as it not looking like a robot, well, there are lots of different types of robots out there! Keep in mind this a modular robotics kit, and modular robots tend to look like this one.

  • alex

    They really chosen the dullest design (especially for a 300 USD product), reminds me on some other contest :)
    The best thing on the package would be pictures of some robots you can build, like you have it on a LEGO box. If there are only pictures of the boxes it’s like you would have on a LEGO box only a picture of a bunch of bricks. Unfortunately they don’t have pictures of robots on their site and (after I watched the video) the other thing is that the robot doesn’t look much like a robot.