Jigazo: the reconfigurable jigsaw puzzle

You’re going to be hearing more about this Jigazo thing in the coming months. ABCNews named it one of the toys to watch in 2011. You can buy a version of it on Amazon. An iPhone version is coming soon. Above you see pictures of the version we put together, which came directly from Japan, as a gift from my in-laws. 

It’s a clever concept. The box contains a bunch of pieces that make up a famous image. In our case it was 520 pieces and the image was Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. To start, you email any image you want to make to a dedicated email account. A few minutes later you get a response – a paint-by-numbers-style diagram that indicates how all the pieces, each of which is marked with a unique symbol, are meant to be arranged to form the desired image. You arrange the pieces as dictated, and – voila! – you have your picture. As you can see from the pictures above, we successfully turned Sunflowers into Chewbacca. 

The puzzle originated out of Japan. We knew about it because my brother-in-law, Zach Lieberman (aka Fast Company’s 36th most creative person in business) helped develop the algorithms behind the puzzle. So I’m a little biased, but also very honestly impressed. There’s something magical about putting these seemingly disparate pieces together and suddenly seeing an image take shape. It’s more of a kit than a puzzle, but given that it’s endlessly reusable and can form any picture you want (which you can then mount, with the enclosed packet of puzzle glue), I can see it becoming very popular.