PING Platform

An Exploration in Physical Computing

Evaluation and Shifting Focus

without comments

In the past several weeks, alot has happened.  First and foremost we’ve updated and improved our proof of concept.  We have also had the opportunity to show it to many different people, not the least of which was Camille Utterback, who was in town for lecture.  We got some great feedback all around.  Here is what we learned:

  • Controls aren’t accurate enough - Despite the fantastic smoothing algorithm that Chris built, the controls just weren’t accurate enough to provide solid game play. Sure, you can easily play a game of low pressure pong, but any long term game play makes the limits of the interface apparent.
  • Interface paradigm isn’t obvious - In observing many different users attempt to interact with the system, it seems to be too difficult to master without instruction.  This adds unnecessary complexity, particularly as we view our work in the context of casual public gameplay.
  • We were too focused on the deliverable - We’ve had very lofty goals from the beginning for this project, particularly when we’re talking about our deliverable.  We realized that maybe we should use the time and resources we have to focus more on exploration and have confidence that we’ll craft a strong deliverable eventually.

So, we’ve decided that infrared-enabled edges add unneeded complexity and are innacurate.  Well, being that we had planned for a multi-touch environment in the future, and given that that particular area of HCI and technology has exploded in the past few years, we decided to start exploring that alternative. But, as  you’ll see in a future post, that whole multi-touch project thing is already pretty saturated.  What will make us different?  Well, two things:

  1. Game platform - everything we have yet to find isn’t really focused on the gaming niche.  There are quite a few platforms or libraries to build a multi-touch table.  But none of them, that we’ve seen, really makes it easy to make quick social games.  Which brings us to;
  2. Built in ActionScript - with the advent of AS3, the Flash/Flex/AIR environment became a strong framework for building intensive applications.  And, given that much of what is necessary to bring multi-touch to Flash was possible in AS2, the speed and stability improvements that come with AS3 make this a strong alternative.  Most importantly, games can much more easily be developed than in a lower level environment.

Best of all, Chris has been developing some strong video processing algorithms in Flex/ActionScript 3 in his work with the PTL, so we’re a few steps ahead.  We’ve also got quite a bit of robust research and real world examples to guide our work.

So, to wrap up: we’re shifiting focus to be more explorative, particularly in the area of multi-touch interactions.  Also, in the interest of academic honesty and intellectual humility, we’ll shortly be writing a post that rounds up all of the multi-touch/table installations, frameworks, projects and ideas we’ve found, plus analyzing and evaluating them.

Written by tonydewan

October 29th, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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