Medical conditions that prevent individuals from being able to walk are difficult to handle, even more so if the patient happens to be a child. Shriner’s hospitals treat a good number of children suffering from cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or amputations. They are always looking for creative treatment methods, so their Motion Analysis Laboratory looked to some Rice University undergrads for help. They asked the group of engineers to design a system that would make physical therapy a bit more fun, while helping encourage the children along.
The team recently unveiled their project, called the Equiliberator. The game system incorporates a series of five Wii balance boards situated between a pair of pressure-sensitive handrails. The platform communicates with a computer via Bluetooth, registering the patient’s movements as he or she moves along the path. The software portion of the system consists of a monster-slaying game which requires the child to step on a particular section of the pathway to dispose of the oncoming enemies.
The game is designed to get more difficult as the child’s balance and coordination improve, encouraging them with an ever growing bank of points as they progress. The final goal of the project is to enable the pressure sensitive handrails to determine how much the child is relying on them for balance, offering in-game incentives to walk with as little support as possible.
We love seeing hacks like this which not only entertain, but truly help people in the process. Kudos to the team at Rice University – they have done a fantastic job here.
Continue reading to see a quick video describing the Equiliberator in the designers’ own words.
Continue reading “Teaching children to walk using video games”
Sometimes emulators just don’t cut it when you want to play a vintage game. Like it or not, some people enjoy the nostalgia of playing old games on the actual hardware for which it was designed.
[Callan] wrote in to share a method he has been using to make some of his own NES game cartridges from ROM dumps in order to play them on an honest to goodness NES console.
He starts out with a 190 in 1 game cartridge, where he found a neat Famicom game never released in the US. He decided he would patch the ROM he found on the multicart in order to have an English menu, and then create his very own cartridge from the image. He discusses how to identify which EPROM chips you will need in order to construct your cartridge, as well as some helpful ways of finding a donor cart that has a similar enough board to house your components.
[Callan] also provides a quick walkthrough of erasing and burning your new EPROM chips, before discussing some post-soldering troubleshooting steps you might need to take before your game will work properly.
While we can’t comment on the legality of these game clones, we still think it’s pretty awesome.
Be sure to check out his site for a far more in-depth discussion of the process if this is something that interests you.
[NeoTechni] wrote in to share the new game peripheral she built, dubbed the NES Paul. The ultimate goal of the project was to build a NES-styled controller for an upcoming game she is working on, tentatively titled 8-bit Hero. The guitar is constructed primarily from wood, as well as some scrounged bits she had around the house. An Xbox 360 controller was dismantled and wired to provide input for the guitar’s buttons and D-Pad. Even the Xbox controller’s rumble packs were used in order to provide visual feedback of missed notes via LED tuning pegs on the guitar’s headstock.
The writeup is broken into several pieces as it was put together in a handful of Google Buzz posts, but it is still relatively easy to follow. We can’t wait to see how the project comes together once the game portion has been completed.
For everyone using a later version of Windows like Vista or Windows 7 they will probably never get to enjoy the awesomeness that was Wing Commander…until now. [Jari Komppa] has managed to use DirectDraw to his advantage and hack out a solution to this disappointing problem. He used DirectX to do this and has even managed to get OpenGL to load from a DLL after a few problems with Windows XP and Windows 7. This is truly a step forward in retro gaming. No more should we have to load a virtual machine to play Starcraft. Hopefully getting this ported to even older games such as Sim Farm or Commander Keen are on the way!
Here is one that really got some of us at the HAD offices excited (yes, we own Zunes). The introduction of the Open Zune Development Kit. Sure, there was XNA, and we even toyed around with it. But anyone will quickly realize just how limited XNA is, especially with older hardware.
OpenZDK is in its infancy, with only one application thus far (don’t worry, you can still use XNA apps too). But we wanted to give it a shout out and let the hacker community make this potential into a reality.
[Dave] hosted a one day seminar at the Illinois Institute of Technology which focused on rapid electronics prototyping for those with little prior experience blinking those LEDs. As the defacto standard for novice prototypers it’s no surprise that he gave an Arduino to each team to use as the controller-computer interface. He started the day by getting the Firmata package up and running. Firmata is a set of libraries that make communications between software and a microcontrollers simple. In this case, each team developed a Flash game that used data from the Arduino as a control.
Several rudimentary games resulted from the day. We’ve embedded video of two of them after the break for your enjoyment. Lion Vs. Pig uses potentiometers, a distance sensor, and an arcade button to play a game of cat-and-mouse (well, Lion-and-Pig really). The other is Kick the Cat, a game that uses a flex sensor and force sensor combination as input. This is something of a virtual mini-basketball game that uses a springy material to launch a virtual feline at a target.
These teams already had a background in code, but the hardware was a new endeavor for them. Arduino helps to break down this cross-over barrier and we think this will result in more people to contribute to open source projects, and falling hardware prices due to a larger volume of demand.
Continue reading “Developing physical controllers for the uninitiated”
Recently, a friend of ours got married who is a Ms. Pac-Man fanatic. His best man set out to fulfill the groom’s dream of owning a Ms. Pac-Man cocktail cabinet. The problem is that the unit he was after was selling for $2500. It’s great to buy the real thing (and with guest contributions he did,) but if it’s not available consider building your own.
[Alex] has put together a comprehensive guide for building a MAME cocktail cabinet. Unlike the mini-cabinet we saw last week, this is intended to be used sitting down and features controls on more than one side. His guide details the use of an original arcade CRT or an LCD flat panel, high-end controls via an I-Pac 4 controller, and a PC running MAME and MaLa software for Windows. The result is a professional looking build with controls on three sides of the table.