Title:
SHIFTABLE CUBIC PUZZLE WITH SUPERIMPOSED SLIDABLE ELEMENTS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cubic puzzle improves on the Rubik's Cube by adding slidable elements to exterior surfaces of the cube. The improved cubic puzzle has a plurality of cubic elements connected to an interior central element, the cubic elements of each of the six surfaces of the cube being grouped into six rotatable groups of cubic elements that can be rotatably shifted relative to the central element about one of the three orthogonal axes of the cubic puzzle. The cubic puzzle further includes a plurality of slidable elements slidably disposed on exterior faces of the cubic elements.



Inventors:
Paquette, Maxime (VAL-DES-MONTS, CA)
Application Number:
11/941213
Publication Date:
05/21/2009
Filing Date:
11/16/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F9/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BALDORI, JOSEPH B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MAXIME PAQUETTE (575 6E RANG, Val-Des-Monts, QC, J8N 7R4, CA)
Claims:
1. A cubic puzzle comprising: a central core element; a plurality of cubic elements connected to the central core element, the cubic elements of each of the six surfaces of the cubic puzzle being grouped into rotatable groups of shiftable cubic elements that can be rotatably shifted relative to the central core element about orthogonal axes of the cubic puzzle; and a plurality of slidable elements slidably superimposed on the shiftable cubic elements.

2. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 1 wherein each group of shiftable cubic elements comprises at least one circular slideway around which a respective cluster of superimposed slidable elements can rotate.

3. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 2 wherein at least some of the shiftable cubic elements comprise arcuate grooves together constituting at least one circular slideway for engaging tongues that protrude downwardly from undersides of the superimposed slidable elements.

4. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 3 wherein the shiftable cubic elements comprise: a plurality of shiftable edge elements having arcuate grooves in two outer faces of each shiftable edge element for engaging tongues that protrude downwardly from undersides of the superimposed slidable elements; a plurality of shiftable corner elements having arcuate grooves in three outer faces of each shiftable corner element for engaging tongues that protrude downwardly from undersides of the superimposed slidable elements; and a plurality of rotatable center elements for rotationally receiving superimposed slidable center elements, wherein the arcuate grooves together form at least one circular slideway on at least one of the six surfaces of the cubic puzzle.

5. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 2 wherein at least some of the shiftable cubic elements comprise arcuate tongues together constituting at least one circular slideway that protrudes upwardly to engage grooves in undersides of the superimposed slidable elements.

6. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 5 wherein the shiftable cubic elements comprise: a plurality of shiftable edge elements having arcuate tongues on two outer faces of each shiftable edge element for engaging arcuate grooves in undersides of the superimposed slidable elements; a plurality of shiftable corner elements having arcuate tongues on three outer faces of each shiftable corner element for engaging arcuate grooves in undersides of the superimposed slidable elements; and a plurality of rotatable center elements for rotationally engaging superimposed slidable center elements, wherein the arcuate tongues together form at least one circular slideway protruding from at least one of the six surfaces of the cubic puzzle.

7. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 2 wherein at least some of the shiftable cubic elements comprise a combination of arcuate tongues and arcuate grooves, together constituting at least one circular slideway to engage the superimposed slidable elements.

8. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 1 comprising 26 cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle upon which are superimposed 54 square slidable elements dimensioned to correspond with each of the 54 cubic faces of the 26 cubic elements, wherein the 26 cubic elements comprise: six rotatable center elements for rotatably retaining six respective superimposed slidable center elements; and twelve shiftable edge elements and eight shiftable corner elements for together defining six circular slideways, each circular slideway adapted for slidably retaining four slidable edge elements and four slidable corner elements to enable the slidable edge elements and the slidable corner elements to rotate with their respective slidable center element as a cluster over the group of shiftable cubic elements.

9. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 8 wherein the central core element comprises three orthogonally disposed pairs of tubular receptacles for rotationally connecting each one of the six rotatable center elements.

10. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 8 wherein the central core element comprises two mutually mating hollow semi-spherical core elements, each having three bores for rotationally connecting each one of the six rotatable center elements.

11. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 8 wherein each rotatable center element comprises a generally squarish body having a substantially flat top surface and a generally curved bottom surface, the generally squarish body further comprising either an upper bore accessible from the top surface for rotationally receiving a downwardly protruding member of a respective superimposed slidable element and a downward protrusion extending from the generally curved bottom surface for connecting to the central core element enabling the rotatable center element to rotate.

12. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 8 wherein each shiftable edge element comprises either at least one first arcuate groove or at least one first arcuate lip on a first outer face of the shiftable edge element for slidably receiving a superimposed slidable element and either at least one second arcuate groove or at least one second arcuate lip on a second outer face of the shiftable edge element for slidably receiving a different superimposed slidable element.

13. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 8 wherein each shiftable corner element comprises: either at least one first arcuate groove or at least one first arcuate lip on a first outer face of the shiftable corner element for slidably receiving a superimposed slidable element; either at least one second arcuate groove or at least one second arcuate lip on a second outer face of the shiftable corner element for slidably receiving a different superimposed slidable element; and either at least one third arcuate groove or at least one third arcuate lip on a third outer face of the shiftable corner element for slidably receiving yet a different superimposed slidable element.

14. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 8 wherein each slidable center element comprises a generally squarish body having a downwardly protruding cylindrical member for being rotationally received within a bore in a respective rotatable center element.

15. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 8 wherein each slidable edge element comprises a generally squarish body having at least one downwardly protruding arcuate tongue, or at least one upwardly recessed arcuate groove, for being slidably received within correspondingly sized arcuate grooves, or lips, of underlying shiftable edge and corner elements.

16. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 8 wherein each slidable corner element comprises a generally squarish body having at least one downwardly protruding arcuate tongue, or at least one upwardly recessed arcuate groove, for being slidably received within correspondingly sized arcuate grooves, or lips, of underlying shiftable edge and corner elements.

17. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 1 comprising 8 shiftable cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 2×2×2 cubic puzzle upon which are superimposed 24 square slidable elements dimensioned to correspond with each of the 24 cubic faces of the 8 shiftable cubic elements, wherein the 8 shiftable cubic elements comprise eight shiftable corner elements defining six circular slideways, each circular slideway adapted for slidably retaining four slidable corner elements to enable the slidable corner elements to rotate as a cluster over the group of shiftable cubic elements.

18. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 1 comprising 56 shiftable cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 4×4×4 cubic puzzle upon which are superimposed 96 square slidable elements dimensioned to correspond with each of the 96 cubic faces of the 56 shiftable cubic elements, wherein the 56 shiftable cubic elements comprise: twenty-four shiftable center elements arranged in two-by-two interior arrays on each of the six surfaces, each two-by-two array of shiftable center elements defining an inner slideway for slidably retaining four superimposed slidable center elements; and twenty-four shiftable edge elements and eight shiftable corner elements together defining six outer circular slideways concentric with the inner circular slideways for slidably retaining forty-eight slidable edge elements and twenty-four slidable corner elements to enable the slidable edge elements and the slidable corner elements to rotate with their respective two-by-two arrays of interior slidable center elements as a cluster over the group of shiftable cubic elements.

19. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 1 comprising 98 cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 5×5×5 cubic puzzle upon which are superimposed 150 square slidable elements dimensioned to correspond with each of the 150 cubic faces of the 98 cubic elements, wherein the 98 cubic elements comprise: six rotatable center elements for rotatably retaining six respective superimposed slidable center elements; twenty-four shiftable inner edge elements and twenty-four shiftable inner corner elements arranged such that eight shiftable inner elements surround each of the six shiftable center elements to define an inner slideway for slidably retaining forty-eight respective superimposed slidable inner elements; and twelve shiftable outer central edge elements and twenty-four shiftable outer side edge elements, and eight shiftable outer corner elements together defining six outer circular slideways concentric with the inner circular slideways for slidably retaining ninety-six slidable outer elements to enable the slidable outer elements to rotate with their respective slidable inner elements and their respective slidable center element as a cluster over the group of shiftable cubic elements.

20. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 1 wherein slidable elements are superimposed on fewer than all six surfaces.

21. The cubic puzzle as claimed in claim 1 wherein the slidable corner elements and the slidable edge elements comprise visual indicia not only on their square outer faces but also on their lateral faces.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is the first application filed for the present invention.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to three-dimensional logical puzzles and, in particular, to cubic puzzles.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The famous Rubik's Cube®, named after its inventor Ernö Rubik, has to date sold well over 200,000,000 units worldwide and has become a cultural icon, spawning a virtual industry of three-dimensional logical puzzles. The design of the Rubik's Cube® is described and illustrated in Hungarian Patent HU-B-170062. See also Rubik's U.S. Pat. No. 4,378,116, U.S. Pat. No. 4,378,117 and U.S. Pat. No. 4,410,179.

Today, approximately a quarter of a century later, the original Rubik's Cube®, not to mention its numerous variants, remains popular, not only with the so-called “speed-cubers” but also with the general population. Despite the existence of published solutions for these rotatable cubic puzzles, people of all ages and backgrounds are still drawn to the challenge that these toys pose. In addition to the classic 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube®, there is the 2×2×2 Rubik's Mini Cube®, the 4×4×4 Rubik's Revenge®, and the 5×5×5 Rubik's Professor Cube®.

Although there are many different variants of these rotatable cubic puzzles, to the best of Applicant's knowledge, they are all fundamentally shifting-type puzzles, and therefore similar or analogous techniques and thinking processes can be applied to solve them. It would therefore be highly desirable to provide an improved cubic puzzle that combines two different types of motion to thus present a new type of challenge to cubic puzzle enthusiasts.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In general, and as will be elaborated below, the present invention is an improved cubic puzzle enabling both shifting and sliding motion. This new cubic puzzle improves upon the classic Rubik's Cube® by superimposing sliding motion to the underlying shifting motion of the cube, thus providing a radically new challenge to cubic puzzle enthusiasts. The sliding motion is provided by a cluster of square slidable elements superimposed over the outer faces of the shiftable cubic elements of the cube. Grooves (or alternatively tongues or lips) can be provided in the outer faces of the shiftable cubic elements to enable the superimposed slidable elements to slide relative to the underlying faces of the cube.

In accordance with a main aspect of the present invention, a cubic puzzle includes a central core element, a plurality of cubic elements connected to the central core element, the cubic elements of each of the six surfaces of the cubic puzzle being grouped into rotatable groups of shiftable cubic elements that can be rotatably shifted relative to the central core element about orthogonal axes of the cubic puzzle, and a plurality of slidable elements slidably superimposed on the shiftable cubic elements.

This invention can be applied to a cubic puzzle having 26 cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle.

This invention can also be applied to a cubic puzzle comprising 8 shiftable cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 2×2×2 cubic puzzle.

This invention can furthermore be applied to a cubic puzzle comprising 56 shiftable cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 4×4×4 cubic puzzle.

This invention can furthermore be applied to a cubic puzzle comprising 98 cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 5×5×5 cubic puzzle.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to the appended drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of a rotatable center element of a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the rotatable center element shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a shiftable edge element of a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is an isometric view of a shiftable corner element of a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an isometric view of a slidable center element in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of a slidable edge element in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is an isometric view of a slidable corner element in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is an isometric view of a central core element in accordance with a first set of embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a partially exploded isometric view of a group comprising shiftable cubic elements, one rotatable center element and its associated slidable center element connected to a central core element in accordance with the first set of embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a partially exploded isometric view of a cluster of slidable elements in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is an isometric view of an assembled 3×3×3 cubic puzzle in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is an isometric view of a semi-spherical core element (one of two mutually mating hollow semi-spherical core elements) in accordance with a second set of embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 13 is an exploded isometric view of a partially assembled 3×3×3 cubic puzzle connected to the mutually mating hollow semi-spherical core elements in accordance with the second set of embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is an isometric view of a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle in accordance with embodiments of the present invention, depicting an optional visual indicia patterning technique;

FIG. 15 is an isometric view of a partially assembled 2×2×2 cubic puzzle having a female dovetail groove in the outer faces of the shiftable cubic elements;

FIG. 16 is an isometric view of a partially assembled 4×4×4 cubic puzzle having a pair of concentric male dovetail lips on the outer faces of the shiftable cubic elements; and

FIG. 17 is an isometric view of a partially assembled 5×5×5cubic puzzle having a pair of concentric male L-shaped lips on the outer faces of the shiftable cubic elements.

These drawings are not necessarily to scale, and therefore component proportions should not be inferred therefrom.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In general, and as will be elaborated below in greater detail, the present invention is an improved cubic puzzle enabling both shifting and sliding motion. This new cubic puzzle improves upon the classic Rubik's Cube® by superimposing slidable elements on modified underlying shiftable cubic elements of the cube. By adding sliding motion to the traditional shifting motion of the Rubik's Cube, a substantially more challenging and exciting puzzle is created. The sliding motion is provided by a cluster of square slidable elements superimposed over the outer faces of the underlying cubic elements of the cube. The superimposed slidable elements can be connected via tongue and groove connections or a similar retaining means to enable the superimposed slidable elements to slide relative to the underlying shiftable cubic elements of the cube.

Therefore, in its broadest conception, the cubic puzzle has a central core element to which the rotatable cubic center elements are attached to retain the shiftable cubic elements. The shiftable cubic elements of each of the six surfaces of the cubic puzzle are grouped with their respective rotatable cubic center element into six rotatable groups. Each of these six groups of rotatable and shiftable cubic elements can be rotatably shifted relative to the central core element about the three orthogonal axes of the cubic puzzle. The cubic puzzle further includes a plurality of slidable (or “sliding”) elements that are slidably superimposed on the rotatable and shiftable cubic elements to thereby provide sliding motion in addition to shifting motion. This innovative cubic puzzle therefore provides two distinct types of motion—sliding and shifting—whereas the traditional Rubik's Cube was only capable of providing one type of motion, namely shifting.

In one embodiment of the invention, each group of rotatable and shiftable cubic elements of the cubic puzzle comprises at least one circular slideway around which a respective cluster of superimposed slidable elements can rotate. In other words, the cluster can rotate when the slidable elements constituting the cluster are caused to slide along the circular slideway. Preferably, a circular slideway is provided on each of the six surfaces of the cubic puzzle to slidably retain superimposed slidable elements on all six surfaces. Alternatively, circular slideways can be provided on a subset of the six surfaces of the cube, for example, on only one surface, on only two surfaces, on only three surfaces, on only four surfaces, or on only five surfaces.

In one set of embodiments, the cubic puzzle has grooves in the underlying shiftable cubic elements for receiving tongues (or “lips”) of the corresponding superimposed slidable elements. In other words, some of the shiftable cubic elements comprise one or more arcuate grooves (that together with the grooves of neighboring elements constitute one or more circular slideways). These grooved circular slideways engage and retain tongues that protrude downwardly from the undersides of the superimposed slidable elements.

In another set of embodiments, the cubic puzzle has tongues (or “lips”) protruding from the shiftable cubic elements for engaging grooves formed in the undersides of the superimposed slidable elements. In other words, some of the shiftable cubic elements comprise arcuate tongues (that together with the tongues of neighboring elements constitute one or more circular slideways). These tongues/lips protrude upwardly from shiftable elements to engage, and slide within, the grooved slideway formed in the undersides of the superimposed slidable elements.

In yet another set of embodiments, the cubic puzzle can have a mix of grooves and tongues in or on the shiftable cubic elements. In other words, some of the shiftable cubic elements can have grooves or tongues or both to form the one or more slideways needed for the superimposed slidable elements to slide relative to the shiftable elements.

The improved cubic puzzle according to the present invention can be embodied as a 3×3×3 cube, a 2×2×2 cube, a 4×4×4 cube, a 5×5×5 or indeed as any N×N×N cube where N is any integer greater than 2. The 3×3×3 cube is preferred because this particular embodiment improves directly on the classic Rubik's Cube, which to date has been (by far) the most popular three-dimensional puzzle amongst puzzle enthusiasts.

In the preferred embodiment, i.e. in the 3×3×3 cubic puzzle, the shiftable cubic elements comprise a plurality of shiftable edge elements having arcuate grooves in two outer faces of each shiftable edge element for engaging tongues that protrude downwardly from undersides of the superimposed slidable elements. The shiftable cubic elements also comprise a plurality of shiftable corner elements having arcuate grooves in three outer faces of each shiftable corner element for engaging tongues that protrude downwardly from undersides of the superimposed slidable elements. The shiftable cubic elements also comprise a plurality of rotatable center elements for rotationally receiving superimposed slidable center elements. In this arrangement, the arcuate grooves together form one circular slideway on each of the six surfaces of the cubic puzzle so that the superimposed slidable elements can be rotated as a cluster over the underlying rotatable and shiftable cubic elements.

In another preferred embodiment of the 3×3×3 cubic puzzle, the shiftable cubic elements comprise a plurality of shiftable edge elements having arcuate tongues on two outer faces of each shiftable edge element for engaging arcuate grooves in undersides of the superimposed slidable elements. The shiftable cubic elements also comprise a plurality of shiftable corner elements having arcuate tongues on three outer faces of each shiftable corner element for engaging arcuate grooves in undersides of the superimposed slidable elements. The shiftable cubic elements also comprise a plurality of rotatable center elements for rotationally engaging superimposed slidable center elements. In this arrangement, the arcuate tongues together form one circular slideway protruding from each of the six surfaces of the cubic puzzle so that the superimposed slidable elements can be rotated as a cluster over the underlying rotatable and shiftable cubic elements.

In the most preferred embodiment of the 3×3×3 cubic puzzle, there are 26 cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle upon which are superimposed 54 square slidable elements dimensioned to correspond with each of the 54 cubic faces of the 26 underlying cubic elements. In this embodiment, the 26 cubic elements comprise: (i) six rotatable center elements for rotatably retaining six respective superimposed slidable center elements; (ii) twelve shiftable edge elements; and (iii) eight shiftable corner elements for together (with the edge elements) defining six circular slideways. Each circular slideway is intended to slidably retain four slidable edge elements and four slidable corner elements to enable the slidable edge elements and the slidable corner elements to rotate with their respective slidable center element as a cluster over the group of shiftable cubic elements.

In a 2×2×2 embodiment of the cubic puzzle, there are only 8 shiftable cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 2×2×2 cubic puzzle upon which are superimposed 24 square slidable elements dimensioned to correspond with each of the 24 cubic faces of the 8 shiftable cubic elements. The 8 shiftable cubic elements comprise eight shiftable corner elements defining six circular slideways. Each circular slideway is intended to slidably retain four slidable corner elements to enable the slidable corner elements to rotate as a cluster over the group of shiftable cubic elements.

In a 4×4×4 embodiment of the cubic puzzle, there are 56 shiftable cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 4×4×4 cubic puzzle upon which are superimposed 96 square slidable elements dimensioned to correspond with each of the 96 cubic faces of the 56 shiftable cubic elements. The 56 shiftable cubic elements comprise: (i) twenty-four shiftable center elements arranged in two-by-two interior arrays on each of the six surfaces, each two-by-two array of shiftable center elements defining an inner slideway for slidably retaining four superimposed slidable center elements; (ii) twenty-four shiftable edge elements; and (iii) eight shiftable corner elements together (with the edge elements) defining six outer circular slideways concentric with the inner circular slideways for slidably retaining forty-eight slidable edge elements and twenty-four slidable corner elements to enable the slidable edge elements and the slidable corner elements to rotate with their respective two-by-two arrays of slidable center elements as a cluster over the group of shiftable cubic elements.

In a 5×5×5 embodiment of the cubic puzzle, there are 98 cubic elements connected to the central core element to define a 5×5×5 cubic puzzle upon which are superimposed 150 square slidable elements dimensioned to correspond with each of the 150 cubic faces of the 98 cubic elements. The 98 underlying cubic elements comprise: (i) six rotatable center elements for rotatably retaining six respective superimposed slidable center elements; (ii) twenty-four shiftable inner edge elements; and (iii) twenty-four shiftable inner corner elements arranged such that eight shiftable inner elements surround each of the six shiftable center elements to define an inner slideway for slidably retaining forty-eight respective superimposed slidable inner elements; and (iv) twelve shiftable outer central edge elements; and (v) twenty-four shiftable outer side edge elements; and (vi) eight shiftable outer corner elements together defining six outer circular slideways concentric with the inner circular slideways for slidably retaining ninety-six slidable outer elements to enable the slidable outer elements to rotate with their respective slidable inner elements and their respective slidable center element as a cluster over the group of shiftable cubic elements.

As noted above, other N×N×N embodiments of the cubic puzzle can be created for N>5 but these are not described explicitly herein as the popularity of these higher order puzzles is relatively low. However, the principles described herein can be used to create higher order puzzles where desired.

In each of the foregoing embodiments, it is preferable that superimposed slidable elements be provided on all six surfaces of the cubic puzzle. In other words, it is preferable that there be six clusters of slidable elements so that each face of the cube has its own superimposed cluster of slidable elements. As aforementioned, as an alternative implementation, the cubic puzzle could also have slidable elements superimposed on fewer than all six surfaces. For example, a cubic puzzle could have a cluster of slidable elements on only a single face.

Specific features, aspects and preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described with reference to FIGS. 1 to 17. In particular, FIGS. 1 to 11 present illustrations of various components (“elements”) of an improved 3×3×3 cubic puzzle in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. This 3×3×3 cubic puzzle is presented as the preferred embodiment for the purposes of illustrating the invention disclosed herein, and therefore it is to be expressly understood that the inventive features of this puzzle can be applied to other cubic puzzles.

Reference is now made to FIG. 1 showing a rotatable center element 10. This rotatable center element 10 is structurally similar to the rotatable center element found in the classic 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube® but with two differences. Firstly, the countersunk hole 102 is not intended to only receive a retaining screw or rivet but also acts as a recess to hold the superimposed slidable center element and enable the slidable center element to rotate. Secondly, the protrusion 104 (which is terminated at face 105 and which is intended to be mounted coincident with one of the central core element axial extensions) can be shortened by cutting out the portion 106 to fit a newly introduced semi-spherical core element which will described in detail below.

Reference is now made to FIG. 2 showing a cross-sectional view of the rotatable center element 10 taken along line A-A of FIG. 1. The countersunk hole 102 extends down to face 103 and is intended to support the superimposed slidable center element. A through-hole 101 is provided to receive a retaining device to fix the rotatable center element 10 and the superimposed slidable center element to a central core element. This retaining device will enable rotation of both elements.

Reference is now made to FIG. 3 illustrating an isometric view of a shiftable edge element 20. This shiftable edge element 20 is structurally similar to the shiftable edge element found in the classic 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube® but also with two differences. Firstly, arcuate grooves 201 are provided in each of the two outer surfaces. In this particular figure, these female grooves are dovetail-shaped. It is understood that these grooves could be male (protrusion) or female (cavity), and of other shapes like L-shaped, T-shaped or any shape that provides a retaining means allowing rotation about an axis perpendicular to the outer faces. Secondly, the protrusion 202 can be modified by cutting out the portion 203 to fit the newly introduced semi-spherical core element, as will be elaborated below.

Reference is now made to FIG. 4 presenting an isometric view of a shiftable corner element 30. This shiftable corner element 30 is structurally similar to the shiftable corner element found in the classic 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube® with two differences. Firstly, arcuate grooves 301 are provided in each of the three outer surfaces. In this particular figure, these female grooves are dovetail shaped. As mentioned previously, these grooves could be male (protrusion) or female (cavity), and of other shapes like L-shaped, T-shaped or any other shape that provides a retaining means allowing rotation about an axis perpendicular to the outer faces. Secondly, the protrusion 302 can be modified by cutting out the portion 303 to fit the newly introduced semi-spherical core element which will be described below.

Reference is now made to FIG. 5 presenting an isometric view of a slidable center element 40. This slidable center element 40 is superimposed over the rotatable center element 10. Protrusion 402 engages the countersunk hole 102, and face 403 and face 103 are brought coincident when the slidable center element 40 is assembled with the rotatable center element 10. A retaining device is introduced from outside of the puzzle through hole 401 and through-hole 101 to fix the rotatable center element 10 and the superimposed slidable center element 20 to a central core element and to enable rotation of both elements. With this particular method of fixing the elements, capping of hole 401 is preferable for aesthetic reasons (to hide the retaining device, as in the conventional Rubik's Cube®). When a semi-spherical core element is used, no capping is required since the retaining devices are introduced from within the puzzle. This will be shown (in FIG. 13) and explained further in the present disclosure.

Reference is now made to FIG. 6 showing an isometric view of a slidable edge element 50. This slidable edge element 50 is superimposed over the shiftable edge element 20. Dovetail-shaped protrusion 501 engages the arcuate grooves 201. As mentioned previously for arcuate grooves 201, protrusion 501 could be male (protrusion) or female (cavity), and of other shapes like L-shaped, T-shaped or any other shape that provides a retaining means allowing rotation. It should be noted that the thickness of the slidable edge element 50 has to be sufficient to avoid disassembly of the slidable edge elements 50 from the puzzle. This requirement will become evident from FIG. 10.

Reference is now made to FIG. 7 showing an isometric view of a slidable corner element 60. This slidable corner element 60 is superimposed over the shiftable corner element 30. Dovetail-shaped protrusion 601 engages the arcuate grooves 301. As mentioned previously for arcuate grooves 301, protrusion 601 could be male (protrusion) or female (cavity), and of other shapes like L-shaped, T-shaped or any other shape that provides a retaining means allowing rotation. It should be noted that the thickness of the slidable corner element 60 has to be sufficient to avoid disassembly of the slidable corner elements 60 from the puzzle. This requirement will become evident from FIG. 10.

Reference is now made to FIG. 8 illustrating an isometric view of a central core element 70. This central core element 70 is structurally similar to the central core element found in the classic 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube®. Three conventional orthogonal axis a-a, b-b and c-c are provided upon which are rotatably attached six assemblies composed of the rotatable center element 10 and the superimposed slidable center element 40. A retaining means (for enabling free rotation of its attached element) is introduced along its associated axis through previously mentioned hole 401 of the slidable center element 40 through the hole 101 in the rotatable center element 10 and is fixed in hole 701 of the central core element 70. Once elements 10, 40 and 70 are united by the retaining means, the rotatable center element 10 face 105 will be coincident with face 702 of the central core element 70.

Reference is now made to FIG. 9 showing a partially exploded isometric view of a group of shiftable cubic elements with one rotatable center element 10 and its associated slidable center element 40 connected to a central core element 70 in accordance with the first set of embodiments of the present invention. This group is constituted of one rotatable center element 10, four shiftable edge elements 20, and four shiftable corner elements 30. Each group, one for every face of the cubic puzzle, has elements that can be shifted (i.e. twisted or rotated) to enable a user of the puzzle (or “puzzle enthusiast”) to rearrange the shiftable elements. Superimposed on the elements of each group are superimposed slidable elements that slide in grooves in the underlying faces so as to provide the puzzle with a combination of sliding and shifting (“twisting” or rotational) movements, thus representing a further challenge relative to the classical 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube®. The purpose of shifting and sliding the elements is to attempt to restore color patterns, or the like, displayed upon outer faces of the slidable elements.

Reference is now made to FIG. 10 illustrating a partially exploded isometric view of a cluster of slidable elements 40, 50 and 60. A cluster is composed of one slidable center element 40, four slidable edge elements 50 and four slidable corner elements 60. In this particular embodiment, arcuate grooves 201 and 301 cooperate to form a circular slideway in which all the slidable elements 50 and 60, except the slidable center element 10, are free to rotate. Thus slidable elements 50 and 60 can be permuted from one underlying shiftable element to another. Incorporating such sliding features in a shifting puzzle greatly increases the challenge. It can be appreciated from FIG. 10 that a sufficient thickness must be provided for slidable elements 50 and 60 to prevent them from sliding out of the puzzle when the puzzle is twisted into certain configurations. To determine this sufficient thickness, the groove (201, 301) and protrusion (501, 601) design has to be considered, especially their width and height, although this designing is well within the capability of one of ordinary skill in the art.

Reference is now made to FIG. 11 illustrating an isometric view of an assembled 3×3×3 cubic puzzle with two clusters and two groups rotated. Compared to the classic 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube®, the cubic puzzle of FIG. 11 is much more challenging since every edge element now carries two separate and independent superimposed slidable elements and each corner element carries three separate and independent superimposed slidable elements.

FIGS. 12 and 13 present illustrations of various components (“elements”) of a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle with a spherical core element enabling puzzle assembly from inside to obviate the need to cap the exterior elements. This 3×3×3 cubic puzzle is selected for illustrative purposes of the improvements disclosed herein and also constitutes a preferred embodiment.

Reference is now made to FIG. 12 showing an isometric view of a semi-spherical core element 80. Two mutually mating hollow semi-spherical core elements 80 are rotated and assembled by pressing them together to constitute the spherical central core element of the puzzle. Tab 803 is secured onto lip 804 by a snapping action. Each semi-spherical core element 80 is provided with three holes 802, one for each orthogonal axis, intended to receive a retaining device introduced from within the puzzle to hold the modified rotatable center element 10′ and the modified slidable center element 40′. Also, countersunk holes 801 are intended to receive protrusions 104 of the modified rotatable center elements 10′.

Reference is now made to FIG. 13 presenting an exploded isometric view of a partially assembled 3×3×3 spherical core element cubic puzzle with its modified rotatable center elements 10′ and modified slidable center elements 40′ connected to the mutually mating hollow semi-spherical core elements 80. The modified rotatable center element 10′ is obtained by removing portion 106 from aforementioned rotatable center element 10. The modified slidable center element 40′ is obtained from aforementioned slidable center element 40 by making through hole 401 a blind hole (not crossing the outer surface). To complete the spherical core element puzzle, both the shiftable edge element 20 and the shiftable corner element 30 need to be modified by removing, respectively, portion 203 and portion 303 in order to preclude the possibility of interferences between the elements and the spherical core element (constituted of two semi-spherical core elements 80). It is evident from FIG. 13 that the retaining devices can be introduced from the interior of the hollow spherical core element. By doing so, and since hole 401 is a blind hole, no capping of the external elements is required. The assembly of the remaining elements of the puzzle is therefore very similar to that of the classic 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube®.

Reference is now made to FIG. 14 showing an isometric view of a 3×3×3 cubic puzzle in accordance with either a first set or a second set of embodiments of the present invention. The depicted optional visual indicia patterning technique is similar to that of a classic 3×3×3 Rubik's Cube® but with added imprints of the visual indicia patterns on the lateral faces of the slidable elements as shown in FIG. 14. The patterns are preferably provided for every face of the cubic puzzle. It is to be understood that more elaborated patterns can be used on this shifting-sliding puzzle without departing from the present invention.

Reference is now made to FIG. 15 which presents an isometric view of a partially assembled 2×2×2 cubic puzzle with no slidable elements shown. This particular illustration shows female dovetail grooves 1501 in the outer faces of the shiftable cubic elements. It is understood that these grooves could be male (protrusion) or female (cavity), and of other shapes like L-shaped, T-shaped or any other shape that provides a retaining means allowing rotation about an axis perpendicular to the outer faces. Superimposed slidable elements can be added to this 2×2×2 cubic puzzle by analogy with the innovative design principles set forth above for the 3×3×3 puzzle.

Reference is now made to FIG. 16 illustrating an isometric view of a partially assembled 4×4×4 cubic puzzle with no slidable elements shown. This particular illustration shows a pair of concentric male dovetail lips 1601-1602 on the outer faces of the shiftable cubic elements. It is understood that these lips could be male (protrusion) or female (cavity), and of other shapes like L-shaped, T-shaped or any other shape that provides a retaining means allowing rotation about an axis perpendicular to the outer faces. Superimposed slidable elements can be added to this 4×4×4 cubic puzzle by analogy with the innovative design principles set forth above for the 3×3×3 puzzle.

Reference is now made to FIG. 17 illustrating an isometric view of a partially assembled 5×5×5 cubic puzzle with no slidable elements shown. This particular illustration shows pivoting holes 1701 and a pair of concentric male L-shaped lips 1702-1703 on the outer faces of the shiftable cubic elements. It is understood that these lips could be male (protrusion) or female (cavity), and of other shapes like dovetail-shaped or T-shaped or any other shape that provides a retaining means allowing rotation about an axis perpendicular to the outer faces. Superimposed slidable elements can be added to this 5×5×5 cubic puzzle by analogy with the innovative design principles set forth above for the 3×3×3 puzzle.

It is to be understood that even though only single grooves or lips are used for the elements of the present disclosure, the exact same results could be obtained with multiple grooves or lips on a given element without departing from the present invention. Likewise, any suitable combination or arrangement of grooves and lips can be employed to enable the sliding motion.

The techniques disclosed in the prior art for arranging the display of colors, emblems, logos or other visual indicia on the outer surfaces of the puzzles to modulate the difficulty level are applicable to the present invention.

Different visual indicia patterns (e.g. colors, logos, emblems, symbols, etc.) can be used for identification of the puzzles.

It should be noted that advertising, corporate logos or team logos could also be placed onto the surfaces of the puzzles to create promotional vehicles or souvenirs.

It will also be noted that exact dimensions are not provided in the present description since these puzzles can be constructed in a variety of sizes.

While the puzzle elements and parts are preferably manufactured from plastic, these puzzles can also be made of wood, metal, or a combination of the aforementioned materials. These elements and parts may be solid or hollow. The motion of the puzzle mechanism can be enhanced by employing springs, bearings, semi-spherical surface knobs, grooves, indentations and recesses, as is well known in the art and are already well described in the prior art of shifting and sliding puzzles. Likewise, “stabilizing” parts can also be inserted in the mechanism to bias the moving elements to the “rest positions”, as is also well known in the art.

It is understood that the above description of the preferred embodiments is not intended to limit the scope of the present invention, which is defined solely by the appended claims.