The 3x3 Rubik’s Cube has fascinated puzzlers and inventors alike ever since its release in the 1980s. Invented by a Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik, the Rubik’s Cube (originally called the ‘magic cube’) was initially intended for the study of architecture which involves complex 3D designing.
With mass production starting in the following years, the cube became the world’s best selling toy. As it gained more and more popularity, people started experimenting with the original cube and its design. There came different types of cubes with additional layers as well as different 3D shapes. This began a race to see who would solve the cube the fastest and with this race came the need for a better cube.
More companies started experimenting with designs while cubers conducted experiments on their own to help make the cube better. This lead to the evolution of the speedcube as we know it today, which uses magnets and specifically designed lubricants to enhance performance.
The original cube was invented with the purpose of teaching architecture, and became a fascinating toy. However, the purpose of a speedcube is entirely different. These are specifically designed cubes with cutting edge technology to help maximise the efficiency of their performance.
The original cube had stickers (now replaced with tiles in the official Rubik’s Brand Cube) which were prone to peeling off. Not only did this tamper with the look of the puzzle, it also required a lot of maintenance to replace the stickers. This proved to be a hassle for cubers all around the world. There was also the aspect of solving the cube by peeling the stickers off :P
While there are still stickered options available, most speed cubes these days come stickerless, that is each piece is made with plastic of that colour. These speed cubes are much easier to maintain and are also easier on the eye. The texture of the plastic used can also be specific to the need of the cuber and can help enhance the grip of the cube, as seen with matte and glossy plastic.
Flexibility and Mobility
Speedcubes are much looser and have corner cutting as well as tensioning systems to help speed up the movement of the cubes. Each piece is designed to reduce friction as much as possible. Simply put, they are made to turn fast - hence the name “speed” cube. Most cubes also have a specific set of cubers that they cater to and a specific niche that they fill in such as being fast, slow, stable, etc.
The original puzzle was not intended for this purpose and served only as a tool for learning, thus none of the factors that are now so important to speedcubers were considered. On the contrary, a speedcube may be discouraging for a beginner, because they may not be able to control the intense tactility and loose feel offered by the cube.
The original rubik’s cube required modding and a lot of experimenting to set up. People tried all different kinds of oils, as well as sanding the pieces and restickering. There had been experimentation with different oils as well as the addition of magnets. Rounding of corners.
With the introduction of speedcubes, cubes can now be tensioned to the liking of the cuber. Different sorts of lubricants specifically designed to help fine-tune the feel of the cube can be used. Moreover, the magnetic strength as well as the nitty-gritty such as the compressibility of the springs can be improved. The sanding lead to corner cutting
While the original (Rubik’s brand) cube comes in the range of 500-1000 INR, any modern budget speed cube in the same range or less comes with the latest speedcubing technology to help take your cubing to the next level. Some excellent speedcubes in this range include the Drift 3M, Cubelelo’s in-house magnetic cube and the RS3M 2021, which uses Maglev technology instead of the traditional springs, among other options.
The rubik’s cube serves as an excellent leisure activity, improving focus and concentration in the modern “distracted” age.
The speedcube on the other hand can help with finger dexterity, hand-eye coordination, high-order thinking skills as well as serving as a test for cognitive skills. Moreover, the speedcube opens the user up to the world of speedcubing, introducing them to competing in unfamiliar settings and being a part of a community, leading to improved social skills.
The speed cube has revolutionized cubing and improvements in speedcubing technology will only further enhance the cubing experience. However, the roots of the speedcube lies in the original cube itself, and it is simply an improved version of the Rubik's brand. It is the experiments with modding and sanding that have led to the modern speedcube.
Speedcube or not, everyone should own a Rubik's cube. Make sure to check out Cubelelo's collection of puzzles, and happy cubing!
Avani Sood from Bengaluru has won 12 female national records overall and has been competing for the past 4 years. She started cubing when she was 11. Her main event is Megaminx. Apart from cubing, she loves to cook and read. She has participated in 10 competitions and won 1 podium.