LiDAR tech used to create giant ‘pong’ arena

LiDAR tech used to create giant 'pong' arena

A Canadian multimedia studio has fused socializing, gaming and the latest LiDAR tech to create a room-sized ‘pong’ arena which enables four players to play the fun game of ping-pong by moving their feet in sync.

The giant 40×60 feet pong arena is one of a kind and with enough practice it is possible for the four players to put up a show that is amazing to watch. According to the team behind the pong game, the main aim behind their pong arena is to bring back the social dimension of games that was at its peak when arcades where at their highest point. GRiD takes it a step further by placing the game in the real world, the team says.

Moment Factory describes this as the first “prototype” in a series of arcade-related projects. You probably won’t see it made widely available, at least not until there’s some refinement. All the same, this illustrates just how public gaming experiences can work without requiring VR or other technologies that take you out of the real world.

Imagined by Nolan Bushnell, developed by Allan Alcorn and brought to market in 1972 by Atari, Pong is one of the first and most iconic arcade games. But despite being revived and adapted countless times, (including Loren Carpenter’s famous 1991 crowd experiment) it had yet to be transformed into a human-scale game integrated with public space. The challenge was therefore to translate the mechanics of the classic 1970’s game into an innovative form by updating the gameplay technology, the team notes.

GRiD : Transforming public spaces with collaborative play from Moment Factory on Vimeo.

The team adds that GRiD is the culmination of a year or so experimentation using a LIDAR sensor. Once the team saw that the technology has been used to track moving objects on self driving cars, they thought of using it to follow people in public spaces as well. The team first wrote some custom software to detect point cloud clusters and then tested it in their black box and were impressed by its accuracy.

With one LIDAR in the corner of the room, the team was reliably able to track the position of a dozen or so people. So they then their black box testing area into a 40 x 60 ft. giant game interface using Unity as a visual and gameplay frontend.

GRiD evolved by iteration. Each time a group of Moment Factory employees came to play in the Blackbox, the collected their reactions and used them to inform the next iteration of the game.

“This allowed us to fine-tune the speed of the gameplay, and inspired us to spice it up by adding some unexpected effects!” the team notes.

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