networked objects week.05



This week’s task:
“For this project, the whole class will play a giant game of networked Pong together. You’ll be given the address of a server on which the Pong game will run, and the details of the protocol for each Pong paddle client. Your assignment is to make a physical input device that logs into the server and plays the game.”


The classic Pong game maps physical movement to a virtual screen representation. How can I magnify and extend this?

mapping the real to the virtual:

The pong controller from the classic game is fairly simple. Rotate the controller counter-clockwise and the virtual paddle moves left, rotate the controller clockwise, the virtual paddle moves to the right. With such a structured and simple set of parameters, mapping the movement became an excercise not in what was most suitable, but what was most fun and expressive.

After some time working through a pong set-up based on some of the techniques of Matthew Barney, I decided to take the thinking in a less lofty direction. What I ended up with, is a very physical mapping scheme: taking off one’s clothing.


Using a very low resolution method of analog video tacking, I was able to determine whether the paddle (stripper) was to move left or move right.

A small security camera feeds an upturned black and white monitor. The monitor is capped with a perf boards covered with strategically placed photocells. As the stripper moves from left to right, their corresponding image moves left and right on the monitor. Pixels grow brighter and fade. The photocells pass the corresponding brightness values to an Arduino module, which connects to the network and plays the game. Arduino Code.

A short clip documenting the pong client I created as part of Tom Igoe’s Networked objects class in the fall of 2006.  I used analog video tracking (camera to monitor to photocells to arduino) to send values that corresponded to moving the paddle left and right.  Short lived, but burned into the memory of my classmates forever.