Just like work and relationships, games are an integral part in the social life of every human and have a special contribution to the development of imagination and direct physical activity. Computer games took a strong momentum in the last decade in the detriment of offline games. New technologies like Kinect from Microsoft or Wii from Nintendo opened again the way to offline games, interactive games involving movement. Still in an early phase, games that involve robots have a great potential for the future wave of gaming industry. These games involve more than one screen, are played between humans and intelligent machines, you can say its a game between friends.
Regardless of age, robots could be our next playmates. Companies producing robots began to feel the need of such technologies which involve both physical activity and imagination. Unlike games like Wii, a robot can be taken to the park, on vacation or wherever you wish to interact with it. The mobility of these smart devices brings value to games and creates a space large enough for future games which will certainly be full of intelligence.
Playing with a friend is full of emotions, a missing detail for a robot. For example industrial robots are full of muscle and follow strict rules of operation. Social robots have a different purpose, they are designed to interact and listen to people’s desires. The perception of such intelligent devices may be different from region to region, depending on culture or religion. In Japan, the most robotized country in the world, I would say that a robot is an additional member of a family. In general, Asian countries are closer to those smarter pieces of plastic and metal than the rest of the world. The facts are different for the the old European continent as well as North America, where people are a little reluctant to communicating with such robots.
Robot interaction methods are important factors during the game. Combining mobile devices with robots led to a huge success among robotics enthusiasts which develop applications for robots control. Employing either a smartphone or a tablet, the robots can be controlled and can interact with the user during the game. Luckily such applications exist for both major mobile OS’s so users are not bound to neither to Android phones or tablets nor Apple’s iOS devices. For starters, as such devices and applications are still emerging, there are a limited number of robots which can be used to play in the real world and less in the virtual world.
The Parrot AR.Drone is a quadrotor flying robot which can capture and transmit in real time photo and video images on a smartphone or a tablet remotely. The images are of the highest quality with 720p HD resolution. To be connected with robot the first step is to install an application called AR.FreeFlight 2.0. The flying robot can be used both indoors and outdoors. Any user can control the aircraft in order to capture images or for entertainment. Manufacturing company offers a variety of games that involve a direct use of drone.
Degree of use depends on the user experience. Depending on the user experience to control the robot, one might have access to many features when controlling the robot by means of a mobile device.
Parrot AR.Drone games
FreeFlight is a free simulation or flight game and is available for iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android devices. This is the main application used by the drone to capture pictures and video as well as flying the robot.
Ar.Rescue is a shoot type game application compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. The user’s mission is to detect the target that will be shown on the mobile device screen. With 40 missions in 4 different worlds the game should recover the pieces of rockets scattered in the atmosphere and help the aliens return to their planet.
Ar.Hunter is a shoot and hunt game type with support for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It can be downloaded for free and involves at least two players. This is a multiplayer game where one of the players should have a detection cap and the other player will control the drone to shot the moving target.
As the title says Ar.Race is a race type game supporting up to four players. It comes with support for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. There is a challenge between players who should finish the circuits.
Ar.Flying Ace is a multiplayer shoot game with support for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Using augmented reality the target is another AR.Drone armed with plasma missiles.
Inspired by racing games Ar.Pursuit is a multiplayer game with support for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. This game involves two players and two drones where a player has to escape from the other one.
Sphero Robotic Ball
A robotic ball, plain and simple, is the Sphero. Connected to a smartphone or a tablet with iOS or Android the robot can be used for games in the real world. For connecting Sphero to a mobile device, a Bluetooth interface is required. If you want to play a game the robot can be used as a multiplayer platform. Used for entertainment, the ball has an intuitive control including tilt, gestures, or swing. To capture picture and video images, the built-in camera can be used, which can capture all your favorite moments.
Sphero Robotic Ball games
ColorGrab is the first multiplayer game for Sphero, a game designed to test your speed reaction. First you have to select the level of difficulty and then to pick up at the right time the right color.
Doodle Grub is a classic Snake game which will bring back old memories for some of us. This time the Snake will eat apples and will grow each time when eating an apple. Like the old game there are collision points which will test your dexterity.
At this moment available only for iOS devices, Chromo invites to a challenge in matching the colors on your screen.
If you want to fishing now, you can choose to fish with a robot. The challenge is to escape from the shadowfish and to eat more food.
Sphero Golf 2.0
And because it’s a ball you can play golf with a robot. Using control options you have to create a “hole” and then “hit” the robot.
You can be a James Bond by using this spy robot. Even if it’s a toy, RoverSpy Tank can be used for entertainment regardless of age. Designed to be used with an iPod touch, iPhone or iPad, the robot discovers any secrets from your place. To be a god secret agent you need to be informed. The tank has integrated a built-in microphone and a live streaming camera to hear and see all around the robot. Is it dark and you can’t see, no problem, the robot has infrared night vision.
This is the end of the beginning for games with robots. The first step was made followed by a consistent growth which will bring new applications and new robots that can be used as playmates. This is different and I’m wondering what this will lead to. My instinct tells me that this is a vast field where the imagination is a map full of roads and a lot of intersections between robots and other areas in the consumer market.