Get this stuff out of my head.

Action Replay for Laser Quest

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This crazy train of thought started after our company had a Christmas outing to the local Laser Quest.  As a bunch of geeks, plenty of people were working out the technology and one person, Pip, just said in passing ‘surely we could make it better by applying some new technology’. That was enough to set my brain working.  Being a web-ish person, I immediately starting thinking about how to extend the Laser Quest experience online.  To me half the fun of the event is reliving the game in the pub afterwards.  Working out who shot who and boasting about the excellent move you made on the opposition base that no-one saw. So why not fit each and every player with a accurate location sensor, track their movements throughout the game and upload the data to the game computer with the shot/hit data.  This means that you could replay the entire game, who was where and where shot where made.  the game can then be replayed online in the pub (who doesn’t have a smart phone) or in the office the next day! What technology needs to be in place to achieve this:
  • First, the existing gun/vest packs need to record the time of kill shots not just the shooter and count.  I’ve no idea whether different system do this or not.
  • next we need some kind of location tracking technology.  It needs to work in an enclosed spaces (with lots of walls), be lightweight and low power and be able to track to an accuracy of about 1m at a rate of perhaps 1 sample/second.
I had a bit of a look around at some tracking technologies, but found none that fit:
  • rfid is very low power, but I believe that it is also very short range.  I’m not sure if that is true of active RFID as well as passive.
  • GPS doesn’t work well indoors, particularly in basements with no windows
  • Wifi based tracking looks promising, particularly as wifi transponders are pretty cheap.  However, they work on signal strength difference to mulitple wifi beacons.  This might mean it works less well on a small area.
  • Bluetooth seems to be based around proximity location rather than triangulation of actual position.
  • RF fingerprinting, which infers position from the the pattern of RF signal received by multiple beacons.  It requires that the system ‘learns’ room before it can determine position.  I’m not sure how well this would cope with multiple sensors and a complex layout of perpendicular walls (with windows).
Of course, any solution must be cheap enough for the Laser Quest arena operators to invest in.  By the look of Sheffield’s Laser Quest arena, this price threshold is pretty damn low.  I’m thinking open source software and hacked consumer hardware will be the way to go. Anyone else got any thoughts?