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The enjoyment comes with the discovery of the solution

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A set of 3D puzzles designed to be difficult to open 

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Problem Statement

How may we design a set of three related puzzle boxes with unique mechanisms that are tied together through a visual, auditory, and tactile experience? 


Puzzle boxes have been created since before the Renaissance. They tend to be vessels or container with an unclear method of how to open it or remove its contents. Puzzles can come in any shape and tend to mimic their inspiration through its solution. 

Focused on three forms

- Boxes
   – Goal is to open these puzzles
   – Often takes a familiar form (cabinets, furniture, jewelry boxes)
- Separation
   – Usually multiple pieces held together
   – Goal is to disassemble and reassemble pieces
- Padlock
   – Can function as a padlock
   – May include key, but is unlocked through irregular means 


Design Objectives

  Create a set of three unique puzzles. The set of three puzzles will be able to:


- provide a difficult or seemingly impossible experience to users

- tell a story that connects them and increases their impact

- be displayed as conversation pieces or collectors’ items

- keep the users interested enough to overlook or return from frustration

- each have an unexpected aspect that raises the difficulty

Moves and Ideation

Moves are defined as any action used to progress or attempt to progress in solving a puzzle

Four moves are typical in puzzle boxes


Pressure- A portion of the puzzle must be

                 compressed to complete the move or

                 following moves

    Bang - Hitting the puzzle can dislodge pieces held

                 by friction or magnets

    Maze - A protruding internal or external component

                 must be moved through a maze 

     Spin - Spinning the puzzle sends pins outwards

                 releasing them from a central component

                 using centripetal force


Initial ideation involved interaction between pins and mechanisms to find mechanisms that are more effective while still maintaining a high level of difficulty

Form Ideation

The forms focused on three stages of life as a theme ranging from adolescence through seniority to death


Child Form Refinement

The Child puzzle is designed to be opened by using the puzzle the same way you would a baby bottle. This means it must be inverted and sucked on in order to be solved.


Adult Form Refinement


The Adult puzzle is designed to be opened using tools from the Child puzzle that allow for a spin move. The spin move is done similar to the way a briefcase is depicted being spun dramatically before opening in movies and things of that nature.


Elder Form Refinement


The Elder puzzle is designed to be opened using a rotating maze hidden inside. This puzzle gives the sense of setting an analogue clock while solving with both motion and tactile feedback.


The Child

A puzzle created to reignite childish feelings and exemplifies focusing on what can be achieved in the future

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1. The bottle must be flipped over. 
    This places two pins in the unlocked 
    position while moving the third 
    pin to the locked position.

2. The ball bearing in the middle 
    compartment must then be placed 
    in the center. This will block the 
    airway that goes from top to bottom.

3. Suction must be used on the nipple. 
    This will lift the third pin back 
    into the unlocked position.

4. While performing step 3 rotate the 
    cap clockwise. This will remove 
    the cap allowing for the 3 pins to
    be retrieved.

The Adult

A puzzle created to resemble the busy stage of adulthood by having various problems to solve with little knowledge of what will come next

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1. Remove the three plugs from the 
    side of the briefcase. This will 
    open access to internal channels.

2. Place the three pins from “The Child” 
    into the correct channels.

3. Move the latches on top to the 
    correct positions. This will open 
    up the fourth and final channel.

4. Replace plugs once all components 
    are in the correct positions.

5. Spin the briefcase. With the three 
    pins and latches in the right place, 
    four internal pins will be pushed 
    to the unlocked position with 
    centripetal force.

6. Lift the top straight up and obtain 
    seven pins including the three

    placed inside from “The Child”.

The Elder

A puzzle created to encapsulate the concept of life while growing old and the ability to give up or move on and finish strong.

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1. Push down the face of the clock. 
    This will set the rings beneath 
    in the maze behind the clock face.

2. While turning the clock face the 
    movement of the internal pin 
    will be detectable with sound.

3. Once the three rings have been 
    aligned the pin will be able 
    to fall into the center which 
    must be turned 180 degrees.

4. Repeat steps one and two to align 
    the the rings again allowing 
    for the final pin to be removed. 


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