Whether human or animal, infants learn the key skills of life through play. Indeed, some countries, such as Germany and Finland do not formally start to teach their children to read and write until around 7 years of age. Sales centric companies even use “gamification” of the sales force, increasing competition within the team and offering significant rewards for sales reps at the top of the leader board.
The whole principle behind gamification is the direct engagement of participants into a process or activity. Within education, teachers will confirm that engaged students outperform students who are disconnect from their studies.
With this in mind, preparing for the BETT show (formerly known as the British Educational Training and Technology Show) at the ExCel Centre in London this week, we decided that we should have a stand that engages people in learning. So here is what our team in Matrix came up with…
The Star Wars type game uses 2 topics covered in other blog posts and articles that have serious industrial uses when developing embedded micro controllers and we turned this into a game.
The first area was the topic of the Accelerometer and Gyro that Ben Rowland covered in this article. http://matrixmultimedia.com/blog/?p=82 Here Ben is covering his home made quadrocopter. However, what we decided to do was to purchase a cheap light sabre from the local toy store, cut open the bottom of the base, reduced the Ecio and breadboard with the MPU-6050 on it into a small controller soldered onto vera board (think of a home-made Nintendo Wii controller, we did). This got extended with a cheap vibrating motor to help give some feedback for our player. This became our game input device.
We then set to work on creating the game.
This is where the second topic we had previously covered came in… namely, collision detection. Here it is referred to in this blog post http://matrixmultimedia.com/blog/?p=68 but it has also recently featured in Elektor’s magazine in January 2014. By creating a virtual object in the Flowcode 3D system panel, we could “throw” objects at the light sabre and use collision detection to determine if contact had been made to score a point, or if the object had gone passed the light sabre and we had lost a life.
My observations as the head of Matrix R&D….
- Real life problems can be fun to solve
- The development team were extremely engaged in the development
- … and even more so in the testing
- Our creativity as to other games that could be built with this technology was large (however the thought of a reality fishing game seemed to lack the typical level of game interaction so was quickly ruled out)
- Flowcode is extremely versatile at developing rapid solutions to complex problems
See the next blog post to see how it went down at BETT, who was the highest score and also read more about the inner workings of the game.
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