“Smart” Tabletop Game Company Sifteo Raises $9 Million

One of the more buzzworthy talks at TED 2009 came from David Merrill, whose MIT research project revolved around cookie-size “smart” tiles that could be used as the basis for a tabletop gaming console. Not like an iPad or those old sit-down Pac-Man games, but rather something that melds the best of offline educational gaming with modern technology.

For example, imagine you’re playing Scrabble, but each of your letter tiles light up when you put them in a dictionary-approved order. Moreover, the tiles keep changing every few minutes in order to enable new game-play (so maybe more a merger of Boggle with Scrabble). And the smart tiles – or “Siftables” – can be used for all sorts of games by displaying numbers or other images (one demo from TED showed some tiles as solid colors and others as paint cans, where kids had to “pour” paint to make non-primary colors).

Merrill and co-founder Jeevan Kalanithi moved from the lab to the board room last July, in order to commercialize their technology. Their company, Sifteo, quietly raised $1 million in Series A funding from True Ventures (complimenting grants from the National Science Foundation).

I bring all of this up this morning, because peHUB has learned that Sifto recently raised $9 million in Series B funding from Foundry Group and True Ventures (wow, talk about burying the lead). No official word yet on the company’s website, but we’d expect some shortly.

[Update: Foundry Group blogs about the deal]

In the meantime, here is video of Merrill’s TED talk: