Run From The Sound Of Footsteps In Blind Game Of Tag

The human auditory system is a complex and wonderful thing. One of its most useful features is the ability to estimate the range and direction of sound sources – think of the way people instinctively turn when hearing a sudden loud noise. A team of students have leveraged this innate ability to produce a game of tag based around nothing but sound.

The game runs on two FPGAs, which handle the processing and communication required. The chaser is given a screen upon which they can see their own location and that of their prey. The target has no vision at all, and must rely on the sounds in their stereo headphones to detect the location of the chaser and evade them as long as possible.

The project documentation goes into great detail about the specifics of the implementation. The game relies on the use of the Head Related Transfer Function – a function related to how the ear picks up sounds relative to their position. This allows the FPGA to simulate the chaser’s footsteps, and feed the audio to the target who perceives the chaser’s position purely by sound.

It’s a great example of a gameplay mechanic that we’d love to see developed further. The concept of trying to find one’s way around by hearing alone is one which we think holds a lot of promise.

With plenty of processing power under the hood, FPGAs are a great choice for complex audio projects. A great project to try might be decoding MP3s.


12 thoughts on “Run From The Sound Of Footsteps In Blind Game Of Tag

  1. I really wish I could find it, but back in the xbox 360 Indie market days I found a game on there that had zero graphics. you were caught trying to steal from the king so you’re dropped into his pet monster’s watery dungeon and you have to move around the dungeon avoiding walls and the monster by sound and controller vibration. It was one of the most interesting games I’ve ever played.

    I unfortunately can’t think of the name and the 360 indie market is no more and I have long ago put my 360 in storage and canceled my microsoft gold account.

  2. I’ve been thinking about if a similar system could be used as an aid for those with visual impairments, sort of like a silicon version of echolocation. (Might be interesting to set up something on a VR simulator to test how useful it is.)

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