Now here's an interesting idea for interactive board games - make the pieces out of OLEDs. Queen's Human Media Lab Professor Roel Vertegaal and HML graduate Mike Rooke have dreamed up a way to use simple hexagons as graphical gaming pieces that can interact with one another to move the game plot forward. Simply slide pieces next to one another to make a move, and the displays show the results of the move. Check out a sample of the technology in action after the jump. Crave reports, "At first glance, the cardboard tiles in the video look like typical white hexagons out of Settlers of Catan. But with the help of an overhead camera and projector, each piece becomes a mini-computer capable of displaying animated video images and even triggering events in adjacent tiles, such as queuing soldiers to attack. The animation makes for more immersive gameplay, Vertegaal and Rooke say, as does using physical tiles instead of the virtual ones used in so many modified board games today. The Queen's team says board games are just one application for their hexagonal bezel-less screens, which should also be able to employ e-ink, e-paper, and OLED technology."
This is an interesting application of technology. A family would only need one set of tiles to play limitless games. So rather than a stack of board games, you'd have one, with hundreds of games that could be played with it. That could ultimately mean a reduction in game piece production without slowing down how many new games could be created and uploaded to a game piece set already owned.
And the idea of this technology being applicable with e-ink, e-paper (think e-reader screens) or OLED technology is interesting. It'd make for one very expensive game, but in the long run - with the average game costing around $30 and having a big box full of pieces an materials to use - a big money and space saver.
While the concern with current board games is the waste generated by gads of little plastic pieces getting lost, tossed in the trash, or anything other than recycled, the concern with this would be the e-waste generated. However, if it could indeed create the opportunity to have an infinite number of high quality interactive games without generating more materials (and if it costs so much that parents yell at kids, "Be careful with that piece!!") then it could be a boon for board games. Plus, they're undoubtedly more energy efficient than gaming consoles, which are notorious power suckers, yet still give some of the same feel of playing a video game - albeit a slow one.
The ultimate in green board games is, of course, picking up something from the thrift store and if it's short on pieces, getting creative and hacking something. It then becomes an ultra-low carbon game and conversation piece. But with next gen games getting more intense with pieces and electronic features, we'll take low energy, long lasting options like this technology might turn out to be.
Here, the final technology - which is hexagons made with OLEDs, e-Paper or e-Ink - is simulated using cardboard pieces, a camera, a computer and a projector. You can get the idea of what the final technology would be like from the video above.
You can read the research paper that explains there experiment and find out additional details.
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