PING Platform

An Exploration in Physical Computing

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Platform Overview

without comments

The PINGplatform is a gaming platform, consisting of both hardware and software tools. Here are the basics.


The PINGplatform makes use of the Phidgets interface board. Basically, Phidgets are “…a set of ‘plug and play’ building blocks for low cost USB sensing and control from your PC.” The Phidgets interface kit makes it really quick and easy to interface with many kinds of sensors, provided they are designed to interface with it. They have quite a few sensors to choose from.

For the first version of the PINGplatform, our user interface is designed around 8 Sharp GP2Y0A02YK infrared distance sensors. These sensors are fantastically accurate, particularly within the limited range we’re interested in. So, why 8 sensors? Well, with 2 sensors at each corner, we can measure the distance from each corner along all 4 sides of the table. This allows us to track 2 points independently along each side of the table. That means we can allow for some relatively complex interactions.

There are two sensors at each corner, 1 sensing across each table edge.

There are two sensors at each corner, 1 sensing across each table edge.

The Phidgets kit abstracts all of the hard bits, providing a robust API for working with sensor data in just about any language you might want. Which leads us to the software…


Our software platform will be built in Adobe Flex. Why? Glad you asked. There are several reasons.

  1. We’re most comfortable with it. The knowledge and experience are there. That means a quicker development time.
  2. The Phidgets kit provides a nice Flex API. Which is, ya know, important.

  3. We can make it an Air app. We can build a desktop app with Adobe Air, which is a “Good Thing”. Even better, we can still allow support for…

  4. Game Development in Flash. There are quite a few Flash based games floating around on the internet. These games are designed for certain kind of user attitude, which lines up pretty directly with the user attitude we are assuming in the context of a public space. This attitude expects that games are quick to play and easy to understand. Even more importantly, we hope for our physical installation to stand as a long term development tool for the New Media students that follow us. We’d love for our work to provide opportunities for future students to learn about touch and gesture based interface design. The New Media program is pretty strongly focused on Flash as a development platform, so it is a good bet these future students will have a strong grasp of the environment.

The PINGplatform software will abstract the interactions with the Phidgets API, providing an easy interface to the data that a game developer will really care about. It will also provide tools to create common interface bits. What’s that mean? Think text input. Think list item selection. Finally, the platform will also provide an operating system of sorts, within which games will be chosen and loaded. This means lots of games can be played in the same physical installation.

Written by tonydewan

September 2nd, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized