The Most Immersive Pinball Machine: Project Supernova

Over at [Truthlabs], a 30 year old pinball machine was diagnosed with a major flaw in its game design: It could only entertain one person at a time. [Dan] and his colleagues set out to change this, transforming the ol’ pinball legend “Firepower” into a spectacular, immersive gaming experience worthy of the 21st century.

A major limitation they wanted to overcome was screen size. A projector mounted to the ceiling should turn the entire wall behind the machine into a massive 15-foot playfield for anyone in the room to enjoy.


With so much space to fill, the team assembled a visual concept tailored to blend seamlessly with the original storyline of the arcade classic, studying the machine’s artwork and digging deep into the sci-fi archives. They then translated their ideas into 3D graphics utilizing Cinema4D and WebGL along with the usual designer’s toolbox. Lasers and explosions were added, ready to be triggered by game interactions on the machine.


To hook the augmentation into the pinball machine’s own game progress, they elaborated an elegant solution, incorporating OpenCV and OCR, to read all five of the machine’s 7 segment displays from a single webcam. An Arduino inside the machine taps into the numerous mechanical switches and indicator lamps, keeping a Node.js server updated about pressed buttons, hits, the “Lange Change” and plunged balls.

The result is the impressive demonstration of both passion and skill you can see in the video below. We really like the custom shader effects. How could we ever play pinball without them?

Continue reading “The Most Immersive Pinball Machine: Project Supernova”

CES: Augmented Reality

I got my hands on a set of augmented reality glasses that were displayed with a Monkey-Ball style game. This wasnt anything too new as far as the augmented reality goes, however the glasses that were used with the game featured stereo cameras on the center of the outside of the lens, which allowed a true 3D augmented vision that you wouldn’t have to stare into a screen for. These glasses were still in the demo stage, but if they ever make it out into retail, I think that they would be exactly what could bridge AR from a fun toy to a useful tool. Another review video after the break.

Continue reading “CES: Augmented Reality”


[Ania] wrote in to let us know her team had finished the Multixylophoniomnibus and that they have posted an extensive writeup about it. We covered this augmented xylophone when it was still in development at the beginning of this month. Originally they wanted to use mallets wrapped in tinfoil as switches that close when they contact the metal keys, something akin to matchbox cars as a switch. This plan was thwarted when they realized the paint surface insulated the metal keys. At this point they switched to piezo sensors which turned into an odyssey of trial and error to achieve a reliable input for the Arduino to monitor. In the end they got it working with around forty lines of code, interfacing six boxes containing a different type of noisemaker.

See the finished instrument played in the video after the break. Alas, the addition of the piezo sensors do impede the resonance of the xylophone keys, but we still like it! There’s something reminiscent of the beginning of Pink Floyd’s Money when this is played.

Continue reading “Multixylophoniomnibus”