Electronic board games for kids

Making family board games electronic

Associate Professor Roel Vertegaal will present his research at a conference at MIT on Jan. 25.

Credit: Photo by Jalani Morgan

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 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.

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."

Professor Vertegaal will present this technology at the Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction conference at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Monday, January 25.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Board games...

by aretheydead?

The past year and a half I have gotten back into board games w my kids (ages 12 and 6... a smart 6). Life, Apples to Apples, Whoonu, Sequence, Scrabble, Monopoly, Clue.. etc etc. It has been so much fun. Growing up Computer games were always fo nerds (no offense) I never got into it. Pacman etc at the bars were for drips too. My son has PS3 and plays some games, Guitar Hero and such... but it seems like he now prefers board games with the family and friends. It really is alot of laughs, much more than with electronic games it seems.... any thoughts on this?


Name the perfect <$15 gift for this child?

Here is a bit about him:
- Turning ten
- Vegan
- Loves Star Wars and Ninjago (or, did as of last year)
- Crafts his own swords and other gear (out of cardboard, etc.)
- Does not enjoy board games
- Does not seem to read much
- Loves TV, but do not want to encourage (family does not wish to encourage)
- Does not play sports
- Fairly stylish dresser (stylish mother buys clothes)
- Nice kid, not violent himself (despite violent interests), and very energetic

I would try to he him a Star Wars comic book or anything of the sorts. Honestly when I was ten the best gifts were CARDBOARD! Making ships, slides etc. but be careful it may come off as inconsiderate. Maybe try getting Lego or beyblades or Pokemon cards. Maybe an outdoor activity like a soccer ball or a frisbee! Hope I helped

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