Human Asteroids makes you a vector triangle ship


In 1979, [Nolan Bushnell] released Asteroids to the world. Now, he’s playing the game again, only this time with the help of a laser projector and a Kinect that turns anyone sitting on a stool – in this case [Nolan] himself – into everyone’s favorite vector spaceship. It’s a project for Steam Carnival, a project by [Brent Bushnell] and [Eric Gradman] that hopes to bring a modern electronic carnival to your town.

The reimagined Asteroids game was created with a laser projector to display the asteroids and ship on a floor. A Kinect tracks the user sitting and rolling on a stool while a smart phone is the triangular spaceship’s ‘fire’ button. The game is played in a 150 square foot arena, and is able to put anyone behind the cockpit of an asteroid mining triangle.

[Brent] and [Eric] hope to bring their steam carnival to LA and San Francisco next spring, but if they exceed their funding goals, they might be convinced to bring their show east of the Mississippi. We’d love to try it out by hiding behind the score like the original Asteroids and wasting several hours.


  1. ianstalk says:

    Not related to the hack, but the video is wrong: Bushnell didn’t “invent” Asteroids; he wasn’t even part of Atari when it was released. He was forced in out 1978, and Asteroids was first released in 1979. The game was designed and developed by Ed Logg.

    Cool hack, though.

  2. If they ever do this with the game Centepede best to change the ‘Human’ prefix…

  3. djbinouz says:

    does anyone know the sort of laser light used in this game ?

  4. aztraph says:

    that right there is how you successfully NOT grow up.

    • Sparhawk817 says:

      peter pan’s life was great until hook(you in this instance) ruined all his fun. and he tried to let hook play along the whole time… but whatevs. your life… killjoy. no one wants to grow up… not really… at least not all the time. enjoying being a child is the best part of being an adult.

    • Chris C. says:

      Funny, I though Aztraph’s comment was positive.

      Seeing a 70 year old man going PEW PEW PEW when firin’ his laser made me smile, and gives me hope.

  5. Chris says:

    what hardware was used for the laser projection?

  6. Duncan Gunn says:

    So far as I can see he was playing with something fundamentally different than what I’ve tried. I wanna go! Me me meee! (Spits dummy). Seriously though you’d have to be a right miserable git not to like it.

  7. Mike says:


  8. Tom the Brat says:

    Needs to have big pillows that knock you off the stool when the asteroid hits you.

  9. Hirudinea says:

    Cool, I bet pushing the Hyperspace button is wild (I assume there is a large compressed gas cylinder in the stool to shoot you across the room.) Anyway this looks like it could be adapted to other classic games, I’m thinking Robotron 2084, run around the game and shoot by pointing your arm at your target, awesome!

  10. Stu says:

    I like the use of a kinect sensor, but it seems a little overkill and appeared a little bit inaccurate in places. Why not simplify by just putting motion sensor kit in the stool, optical encoded wheels, gyroscope, etc. Responsiveness would improve as well.

  11. eric gradman says:

    Hey y’all. I made this and just wanted to address some of the technical stuff.

    The laser is an unlabelled Chinese imported 1W RGB laser with ILDA. I drive this laser using an Etherdream TCP/IP to ILDA bridge. The software is all custom written in OpenFrameworks.

    The Kinect is used to track XY only. @Stu, the accuracy using the Kinect is excellent and requires no dead reckoning or integration (as your suggestion would entail). Integrating differential motion data is always going to be more error-prone than a sensor that provides direct readings. And also, using the Kinect lets me play standing up as well!

    Orientation is determined by integrating the gyro data from a smartphone. I’ve also installed this with the smartphone taped to the bottom of the seat and a Wiimote for trigger.

    I’m proud to say I totally ripped the asteroids shapes by tracing a screenshot of the original game in illustrator.

    @Hirudinea the seat height is adjustable, so technically there’s already a gas cylinder in there… hmmm… ideas…

  12. Next step? Give the phone to someone in a wheelchair. Maybe not the manual ones but one of those electric ones. One hand controls the chair. One hand shoots the lasers.

  13. egradman says:

    @dl_evans oh shit that’s a great idea. I like that idea in both the electric and manual wheelchair configurations. In the manual wheelchair configuration, you’re using both hands to move around, so I’d use a lapel mic to detect when the player actually says the word “PEW!” to fire.

  14. wmatl says:

    This has so much potential. Space Invaders anyone.

  15. Republicou isso em Julio Della Flora.

  16. vector handles says:

    Umm.. guess the vectrex handheld has finally arrived! ( )

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