Researchers make board games electronic (w/ Video)

Jan 22, 2010
Associate Professor Roel Vertegaal will present his research at a conference at MIT on Jan. 25. Credit: Photo by Jalani Morgan

(PhysOrg.com) -- A groundbreaking technology developed at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada may make traditional board games a thing of the past.

The technology allows groups of friends or family members to play electronic games like they used to do board games: in a sociable and physical setting, placed together around a table. It also eases game controls by using affordances of regular cardboard pieces.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Video - demonstration of an electronic board game

"This is no doubt the future of board games," says Roel Vertegaal, an associate professor at Queen's Human Media Lab.

At first glance, the technology, by School of Computing graduate Mike Rooke and Professor Vertegaal, looks like a set of white, cardboard hexagons taken straight from the game board of Settlers of Catan. However, with the help of an overhead camera and a projector, each piece of cardboard becomes a mini-computer capable of displaying video images.

The camera tracking and projection allow researchers at the HML to anticipate technologies 5-10 years down the road, when thin-film Organic LED screens will allow these kinds of board games to become practical. "We just started thinking about, 'What if these new screens exist? What could we do with them?" says Professor Vertegaal.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Video - functional, interactive mp3 player made of Styrofoam

Board games are just the beginning. HML student Eric Akaoka and Professor Vertegaal have also been pioneering research on DisplayObjects. This technology allows any object to become a computer. The DisplayObjects workbench allows designers to carve future appliances out of interactive Styrofoam that immediately displays images, allowing evaluation with users at an earlier stage than is currently possible.

"In the near future, a computer will have any shape or form, and iPhone-like computer displays will start appearing on any product. Projecting and tracking objects is just the beginning. These Organic User Interfaces will be embedded in real world interactions."

Explore further: UT Dallas professor to develop framework to protect computers' cores

More information: Paper - www.hml.queensu.ca/files/electronicboardgames.pdf
Paper - www.hml.queensu.ca/files/displayobjects.pdf

Related Stories

Leveling the gaming field

May 13, 2008

A new computer game developed by MIT and Singaporean students makes it possible for visually impaired people to play the game on a level field with their sighted friends.

Swedish research can make Super Mario more realistic

Mar 06, 2009

Computer games are being developed at an ever more rapid pace, and the technical demands are rising, not least regarding graphics boards.  At Mälardalen University in Sweden, researchers have now found a solution to ...

Video games shown to improve vision

Mar 15, 2007

According to a new study from the University of Rochester, playing action video games sharpens vision. In tests of visual acuity that assess the ability to see objects accurately in a cluttered space, game players scored ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jan 22, 2010
Looks good. But when I want to play board games with other people I rarely want to sit in a darkened room while doing so.
farahikia_1983
not rated yet Jan 25, 2010
Sounds awesome. I am a fan of online games and enjoy playing flash games offered by many websites.
However, I think it is much more fun to play old games in their ancient methods.

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...