InnovationBack to round


by Catherine Wu, Ivan Wang, Jacqui Fashimpaur, and Vinjai Vale


This puzzle is part of a special round structure. See the Hall of Innovation solution for details.

There is a set of words with some letters substituted by symbols. With the order of symbols at the bottom, it’s clear we should be solving for the letter corresponding to those symbols in order to extract a set of letters.

A possible solve path is to start with some of the more constrained words, such as CLO?K. We know that the only possible letters for this symbol could be A/C/N (CLOAK, CLOCK, CLONK). This narrows down the set of letters, and we can look for other words using those symbols and further constrain those symbols.

This puzzle is affected by the following gizmos:
WiresWhen a wire is connected from left to right, it rotates the symbols in the matching position in the left and right columns to horizontal
ValvesEach valve determines whether symbols in the middle column are horizontal or vertical
Clock HandsSymbols on hands in clockwise order (starting from the top) determine the extraction order
Colored USBsFills or unfills the symbols within a colored region

Note that it's possible for Cipher to have no solutions.