Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


Anyone Can Solve a Rubik's Cube With Augmented Reality

D-briefBy Nathaniel ScharpingJune 1, 2016 9:11 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news


To the uninitiated, a Rubik's Cube is a devilishly complex contraption — as anyone who has idly picked one up only to throw it aside minutes later can attest. But there is hope for the impatient: A new program made by an undergraduate in Prague uses augmented reality to project a step-by-step solution onto any Rubik's Cube, allowing even a novice to end up with a perfectly arranged cube. 

One Step at a Time

The mistr kostky (Czech for "master cubes") system, designed by Martin Španěl as his undergraduate thesis at Charles University, combines a video camera with the Cube Explorer software to read any configuration of a Rubik's Cube and project simple instructions for solving it onto the cube face. The augmented instructions look a little glitchy, especially if you move the cube too much, but Španěl says that they should allow anyone to solve a cube within 20 moves. The software first analyzes each face of the cube to store the configuration of the colored squares, and then a computer algorithm charts the optimal series of moves needed solve the puzzle. These show up as directional arrows on top of the cube face that should be turned. Once a move is completed, the system automatically progresses to the next one. [embed][/embed] Even with the help of the augmented, you won't be setting any records solving the cube. Working a Rubik's Cube has long since gone from an idle hobby to a competitive sport, complete with a worldwide association and an impressive list of world records — the current world record stands at 4.9 seconds. The secret to solving a Rubik's Cube in record time comes down to a set of algorithms that guide the twists and turns no matter what configuration the cube is set to. And, as with any algorithm, you can bet that a computer can do it better than we can. The world record for a robot is 2.4 seconds.

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 50%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In