Introduction: Create Your Own Augmented DAQRI 4D Element Cubes

What are DAQRI 4D element cubes? Here is DAQRI's description from their successful Kickstarter campaign:

"Elements 4D is a set of six beautifully designed wooden blocks that come to life with DAQRI’s 4D app.

Etched wood Elements 4D blocks

Each block face depicts a different chemical symbol, representing the elements of the periodic table. Beaming the app’s viewfinder onto the blocks instantly transforms them into 4D representations of that element, like magic! (Since this can be hard to picture if you've never seen it before, we definitely recommend watching the video above.)

Elements 4D in action

Not only can you learn about each element in this incredible interactive environment, but when you put two blocks together it creates a chemical reaction in 4D. Part story, part game, part educational toy, Elements 4D is truly a first-in-category experience."

As a reward for supporting their campaign, they sent out a set of wooden element cubes. However, they haven't made the cubes available anywhere for purchase (even though it SAYS you can buy them, the link they provide to buy them doesn't let you buy them. Weird.) so you could only get them if you had supported their campaign. This Instructable will show you how to make your very own cubes. I built mine at TechShop.


Items needed:

6 blank wooden blocks (approximately $9)

Laser cutter

iPhone or Android devices capable of running the DAQRI 4D elements app.

Large rubber band (optional)

Step 1: Download the DAQRI 4D Elements Cubes PDF

Download the DAQRI 4D elements cube PDF from the DAQRI elements cube website.

Print them out on sturdy paper. Cut them out and form them into paper cubes according to the instruction on the PDF. Hint: use the end of a paperclip to score the paper along the fold lines using a straight edge as a guide - this will make the folds crisper. We will be using the paper cubes as a reference later. Download and install the 4D elements app on Google Play or your favorite app repository. Run the app and hold the paper cube in front of the camera. You might have to try different lighting and distance to the camera to get it to work. Be amazed at the 4D augmented reality effects! Bump element cubes together while viewing them in the app and watch the interactions.

If this is all you wanted to do, you could stop here, but we want to go further to create wooden blocks that we could use for augmented reality targets. As I mentioned, these were initially offered by the DAQRI kickstarter campaign but as far as I have been able to determine are not available for general purchase, so we will make our own.

Step 2: Prepare the Graphics

So for this step, we are going to prepare the graphics for laser cutting. We are going to grab the graphics off of the DAQRI paper cubes and rearrange them to make it easier to laser cut multiple cube in one go. (Note: I would publish my manipulated graphics here, but DAQRI owns the copyright to them and I don't want to tick them off - they are nice guys)

Fire up your favorite graphics program cut out each side of each cube. I cut out (from left to right)

Oxygen, Hydrogen, Cesium, Beryllium, Iron, Plutonium

Carbon, Helium, Gallium, Titanium, Chromium, Platinum

Chlorine, Lithium, Xenon, Bromine, Aluminum, Phosphorus

Fluorine, Sodium, Iodine, Calcium, Cobalt, Zinc

Mercury, Gold, Silicon, Rubidium, Copper, Titanium

Sulfur, Potassium, Tin, Magnesium, Nitrogen, Bismuth

It is not necessary to keep the original sequence of the elements, but it is recommended. Later, the elements you want to "combine" should be on separate cubes.

Step 3: Laser Cut the Wooden Blocks

You will need to buy six 2" wooden blocks. These can be found at Michael's, other craft stores, or many online retailers or you can cut your own if you have the equipment and the wood stock. For this Instructable, we are assuming that you just buy them.

Fire up the laser cutter. I would recommended trying the engraving on a scrap piece of similar wood to make sure you have the settings right. You want to get it as dark as possible so that they will track properly later. The setting depend a lot on the type of wood you have, your laser cutter, etc. so I will leave it up to you to experiment to get it right. Of course you want to set it for raster and not vector.

Line up the six blocks on the laser cutter. Remember to move the bed of the laser cutter down before you try to focus it or you will smash the laser head against the blocks. To keep the blocks aligned, we strapped them together with a large rubber band. I am not sure if this was necessary, but I wanted to make sure that they wouldn't move while laser engraving. Engrave the first side and then turn each block to the next side and engrave that. Use your paper blocks that you created in the first step as a reference.

When you have engraved all six sides you are done! Enjoy your 4D augmented awesomeness!