Urban Defender: location aware game

What do gangs, territories, cities, and glowing blue balls have in common? No, not that one drunken night you can’t seem to remember, rather a new location aware game called Urban Defender.

The concept behind the game is simple. A player hold a ball that knows its current location and can notify you if needed via LEDs and a speaker of changes in its environment. He or she then runs around the city until the ball tells them of an unclaimed or enemy territory. Bounce the ball against a building and that territory is now claimed.

The ball itself is a prototype combination of an Arduino, Accelerometer, vibration motor, LEDs, XBee, batteries, and wire all packed inside of an industrial rubber gym ball. Unfortunately after testing the Urban Defender team found the GPS and a few other components would need to be kept outside of the ball and on the player.

Finally, a project that warrants the use of an Arduino. Anyone up for a game?


  1. ino says:

    “…the game has no start, no end …” and I would like to add ” no point too.

  2. zetsway says:


  3. Actually, I love Augmentedl-Reality stuff, and at least as a proof of concept and ideas test – I love this. Actual playability..? I’d have to try it and see. I’d probably prefer a waypoint based system rather than waiting till the ball goes nuts.

  4. bencoder says:

    Interesting use of technology, but seems to me like it would be quite boring.

    Perhaps if it was a multiplayer game, with teams and updating via mobile networks with real time feedback when a previous “zone” you owned has been lost to another team, it might be more fun then as turf wars could break out and the social aspect makes it more than just “throw a ball against a wall in various locations”.

  5. MS3FGX says:

    I think “a few other components” might be a bit of an understatement. From the images on the site, it looks like the majority of the hardware is in the backpack, the ball itself just blinks and detects impact.

  6. Sijesh says:

    Instead of using a ball, I’d use those lights on my shoes. Anyways its a boring game.

  7. James says:

    I agree that this is one of very few hacks that show up on HAD that need an arduino or similar chip.

  8. nemo says:

    @James-Sorry, but the Arduino is not a chip.

  9. tehgringe says:

    @James: There are over 9000 hacks that show up on HAD that NEED an arduino (you can find out about it here: http://www.arduino.cc/en/Guide/Introduction) or similar platforms.

    I like the augmented reality stuff. This would work nice on a location aware phone (less the smashing my phone against the side of a house part).

    Think http://www.monopolycitystreets.com/ with some hardware…

  10. Jon says:

    The idea of a locational aware game is cool. I would rather see a laser tag, capture the flag, multi-player game.

    Maybe GPS to track the location of opponents or flags, and then laser tag to defend your flag. If you are tagged with a laser you have to return to your home base for a certain time, or find a predetermined healing station some where. It would be fun if it was played city wide against a bunch of strangers.

  11. Ludo6431 says:

    I love this idea !

  12. more says:

  13. bigalexe says:

    I think you could make this work by interfacing it with a real-time updated handheld (iPhone app?) displaying your current territory and that of an opposing “Team”. Then you could make a race to capture a given area of say a 4×4 block area on foot. Basically its a goofy Capture-The-Flag game.

  14. highjumpman says:

    “What do gangs, territories, cities, and glowing blue balls have in common?” I was actually hoping for a real life version of Crackdown there… But this isn’t so bad. I’d like some way to track an opponents’ ball if it nears my territory though, so that my team could somehow stop the other team from conquering it. Did I say team?

  15. anon says:

    what about “the great land grab” for android platforms. it’s the same thing. been playing it for weeks

  16. Face says:

    I like the team thing and live updates. I think if you see another team bouncing their balls against your building you could nail them in the head with your ball to deactivate them for an hour, a day, whatever. Modern Dodgeball..

  17. Mark says:
  18. gus says:

    should have red leds for other player’s zones perhaps

  19. kuhl says:
  20. amk says:

    Awesome idea. I picture an urban version of the game Company of Heroes. Real bridges, highways, etc, would provide interesting strategic points and barriers. Hmm, now how would combat between players, or “units”, be conducted?

  21. Iv says:

    I think it will be to easy to cheat…

  22. Karl says:

    I think this is a really cool idea. You would essentially be playing a multiplayer game with invisible players, trying to capture as much of the city as you can. It’s also interesting because you could set up games, or just play on your own (similar to lan vs. online play in games).

  23. anon says:

    lol this will solve gang wars or at least make them less deadly lol gangbangers will now use glowing blue balls instead of guns.

  24. Nick says:

    There’s already an Phone app that does this – Turf Wars. It includes the territorial concepts and lets you team up with other players too.

  25. jb says:

    Does anyone else think guy in the first vid looks like harry potter?

  26. pixel says:

    I thought the guy in the “concept” video looked like Moss from the IT Crowd.

    This could make a neat IRL CTF game.

  27. Squintz says:

    I would play at least once. Maybe twice! I think it’s a great concept and would just need to be perfected as other have said.

  28. Kevin says:

    I can’t understand the narrator. She sounds like she has downs.

  29. samurai1200 says:

    this reminds me of a different game that i think i saw originally on the makezine blog. a group of people (say, at a party) were handed the game bricks (electronics in an enclosure) whose little 7-segment LED display on the front would increment as people came in proximity to it. the more people in proximity, the faster it would increment… it became a “popularity” game of sorts — showing how often you were among groups of people.

    I CANT FIND THIS PROJECT to save my life. someone please tell me they remember it…

  30. I love it, but you need a critical mass of people to play/use it before it becomes useful – kinda like britekite…

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