Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tech and Board Gaming Worlds To (Finally) Collide

Philips is showing off its "Entertaible" at the Internationale Funkausstellung in Berlin. From their press release:

Entertaible uses proprietary digital shape recognition and multi-touch sensing (patent pending) to interpret the moves of several players simultaneously. This generates a highly interactive, intense gaming experience where speed and clever tactics are essential to win. The simultaneous tracking encourages players to make their moves in real-time by dispensing with the need to wait for their turn, and allows participants – with practice - to plan moves in advance and react immediately to the actions of the other players. The use of physical objects like pawns and bats to directly manipulate the virtual world enhances the sense of magic.

The platform supports products for social gaming as well as for other markets like infotainment services and educational applications in both the professional as well as the consumer domain. Philips Entertaible is initially targeting social gaming away from home in locations such as pubs, bars, hotels or restaurants and plans pilot testing at several partner locations in Q4 2006.

As far as the general idea is concerned - a digital playspace that can be used in the tabletop format so suitable for group gameplay - this has been a long time coming, anticipated by research from many hardworking graduate students the world over. As for Philips' interests, apparently they are hard at work on a patent for "multi-touch sensing," the feature of this gamespace that will allow for simultaneous turn-taking in board gaming. It is interesting to contemplate what kinds of games will evolve for this new space, but in the long term this kind of technology can also be used to great effect in traditional board games as well. Imagine a Monopoly "improvement" that does not consist of a debit card reader you type info into but a board that automatically manages your financial portfolio while you play. Of course, there truly are great opportunities for educational game development in this space as well.

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