Hands-free Gamification: Introducing our custom-built balance board and digital flooring solutions
For Royal Caribbean we developed an action-based game with the objective of helping Sasu, the main character, navigate through four underwater worlds. Guests can control Sasu via a custom-built LED balance board by shifting their body left and right, by jumping, or by shaking. For another project underway, we have enabled gameplay via fast-paced foot tracking on custom digital grid flooring, utilized for controlling a friendly animals progression in a jump and run game for youth.
Custom-Made Balance Boards
Our intention for Royal Caribbean was to keep ship guests physically active by using their bodies as the key interaction element. To accomplish this unique mechanic, we had to consider many challenges including unpredictable sunlight conditions, a wide range of user’s height and weight, building a system that's resistant to the vibrations of the ship, and needing to run smoothly 24/7. With all of these factors in play, we moved away from a Kinect or other optical sensors and embarked on developing our own tracking system based on the user’s balance.
Each board contains various weight sensors (supporting up to 120kg) to measure the shift in balance and is capped off by an LED layer covered with blurred plexiglass. This allowed us to provide more visual feedback to our players while also protecting the overall system against moisture or dust. With a surface area of 85cm squared, both the board size and sensitivity is also wheelchair accessible to keep the installation fully inclusive, with an added option of a joystick controller input for those with limited muscle mobility. To monitor all sensor values and send them to our Unity application, we developed our own Demodern-branded circuit boards with a modular setup ensuring easy replacement of components.
Digital Grid Flooring Solution
We are always looking to develop creative solutions that solve new problems, and believe that hands-free gaming remains an important factor for the entertainment industry. With this in mind, we adapted the board in another direction for offering even more gameplay variety, by creating a second model that operates on a digital 3X3 grid with pressure sensors rather than balance/weight. The surface area of 33cm squared can be easily scaled and the digital grid simply multiplied depending on the desired hardware and software setup.
The grid mechanic gives real-time feedback on the footing position of a user (think “Dance Dance Revolution” meets 2020’s creative technology), which can be simply and seamlessly integrated into the flooring of any space - be it vinyl laminate or carpet. Tracking accuracy and sensitivity is easily maintained under the protective flooring layer due to the internal pressure sensors connected to the digital grid, allowing for virtually limitless installation possibilities.