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Warcraft III on a Table-Top

Zonk posted about 8 years ago

42

ParadyNexus writes "IGN recently posted an interesting article featuringWarcraft III on an interactive digital table. From the article 'Possible uses of the technology range from tactical map manipulation and business collaboration to parlor games, but we see a real future in gaming. An intern at MERL was able to get WarCraft III running on one of the prototypes and shot a video of the DiamondTouch and a voice recognition system in action.' Photos and answers to commonly asked questions and a video showing multi user interaction can be found online."

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42 comments

Multiuser multitouch tabletop screen? (3, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | about 8 years ago | (#15099121)

Wow. For those who didn't read this apparently a small current is sent through your chair so that the table can recognize who is touching it and can accept many touches at the same time. Thus allowing for multiple users in a game like warcraft or any number of other purposes. I want one.. Now..

Re:Multiuser multitouch tabletop screen? (2, Interesting)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about 8 years ago | (#15099193)

If everyone is sharing the same table, won't you be able to see each others' placements?

Re:Multiuser multitouch tabletop screen? (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | about 8 years ago | (#15102699)

I'm thinking that the real potential here is for true team-based games.

Team A could share a table while Team B is at another table. The composite output from both tables could be fed, after a small time delay, to a projector for an audience.

Or, in real-life, soldiers in the field could be tracked via GPS and plotted on this table. When they contact the enemy, triangulation could pinpoint the location of the bad guys on the display. A General could then, via touching and dragging, issue commands to his units to quickly flank and overwhelm the enemy position.

Re:Multiuser multitouch tabletop screen? (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | about 8 years ago | (#15099241)

Liquid War [ufoot.org] would be a nice test game on one of these.

Liquid War has already been ported (1)

dlleigh (313922) | about 8 years ago | (#15099652)

The only picture google found for me is here [manager.co.th] . Middle column, fourth one down in the photo gallery.

Capacitive Touch (2, Interesting)

N_Piper (940061) | about 8 years ago | (#15099451)

The interesting thing is that Mitsubishi has found a way for more than one person to interact with the table and be distinguished as such. It looks like they have found a way to distinguish your "Personal Ground" and measure the rate of drain on the grid from the diferent users.
The rest is really just old-hat that can be done with stock electronics from Digikey and a projector.
Not that I would know how to implement the HID drivers but the table top is just a grid of wires reporting X and Y through, what might as well be, stock IC's.
For those who want to know more look at the tech docs for these products http://www.qprox.com/products/index.php [qprox.com]

DiamondTouch uses a different method (2, Informative)

dlleigh (313922) | about 8 years ago | (#15099703)

The Qprox devices use a switched capacitor technique invented by James Clerk Maxwell in the late 19th century He dubbed it the "method of intermittent currents" and it can usefully measure capacitances in the sub-picofarad range.

DiamondTouch uses capacitive coupling, but has a very different sensor architecture. It is closer to a radio receiver with a synchronous demodulator. See the following MERL technical report [merl.com] for more information.

What I'd really like to see (3, Interesting)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | about 8 years ago | (#15099124)

Is a multi player game table where at least 4 PC's share a large table stop screen, so as to be able to play anything from WoW to Axes and Allies. Diplomacy, anyone?

Re:What I'd really like to see (3, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 8 years ago | (#15099198)

Ummm, instaed of having four machines sharing one screen, wouldn't it make more sense for the game to be reworked to take advantage of one output device and four input devices instead?

Re:What I'd really like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15099843)

Not if four people need to buy copies of the game...

--

yours,

EA Marketing Dept.

Re:What I'd really like to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15099312)

hmmm, "Axes and Allies" now that would be a short game - the 3rd Reich and Japan armed only with axes.

New? (0, Offtopic)

macphile84 (827239) | about 8 years ago | (#15099135)

I guess Slashdot waited a couple of weeks after this hit the internet this so everyone else could see it before the site got slashdot-ed? Seriously, this was on Engadget [engadget.com] two weeks ago today!

Next step.. (5, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#15099204)

This will surely evolve into a complex holographic tabletop, which will project glowing 3D plans of maps and structures, allowing the players to figure out if it's a trap.

Re:Next step.. (1)

dancpsu (822623) | about 8 years ago | (#15101608)

I actually thought of a way to do this a while ago. The table would consist of a giant set of convex mirrors like the mirage toys [rainbowsymphonystore.com] with a spinning OLED display at the bottom to sweep the image across 3D space similar to the crystal ball display [geek.com] . The center would have a plexiglass circle with sensors and darkened to not let the room's light in to wash out the image. The users could then pass their hands through the mirage projected onto the table to interact with the game itself.

Unfortunately, even though the projection would appear as if it were suspended above the table, in order to see the image the user would have to actually look into the glass. So it wouldn't be suspended completely in space like Star Wars.

Re:Next step.. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#15101877)

Your idea doesn't sound too far off from the old Time Traveler [klov.com] arcade game, although the interface was a standard joystick and buttons rather than passing your hand around the hologram.

Without Special Hardware (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | about 8 years ago | (#15099235)

This particular application requires an expensive table. I'd love to see one that accomplishes the same thing with off the shelf, DIY hardware, even if it wasn't as fancy or didn't have all of the features. The way they are accomplishing this is clever and unique (a small current goes through the chair, then the person, then the fingertip or hand which the table detects, even being able to tell multiple users apart), but won't likely be priced for home use anytime soon. I want to build one so I can play Sea3D (Settlers of Catan) [s3dconnector.net] on an interactive table top!

Re:Without Special Hardware (1)

2008 (900939) | about 8 years ago | (#15099487)

You could do much the same thing with a webcam mounted overhead, I think. Some simple image recognition stuff should be able to keep track of which finger is attached to which person, particularly if the image the table is projecting is easy to distinguish from the people (i.e. if the table flashes at 30 Hz and the camera samples at 60 Hz). No being wired to the game table is a plus, though I bet it'd be a much flakier system.

You'd never get a big and cheap touchscreen though. You could fake that with the webcam (for X,Y) and a pressure sensor on your fingertip, with an LED on your fingernail for more accurate positioning. Again, not as good probably but it'd be fine for playing a grid-based game I bet.

Re:Without Special Hardware (1)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | about 8 years ago | (#15099514)

Reading your reply made me think of those digital whiteboards that track where you write and transfer it to a PC in real time. I'll have to look into how they keep track of the pens (they even know which color you are using), and if any of them can track multiple colors at once.

Either hacking one of those or mimicking the principles they operate on may lead to something. Certainly they would work if the whiteboard were horizontal and a projector was projecting an image onto them...

boardgames & ragdoll kung fu (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15099247)

This would be pretty useful for boardgames, but other then that i see it being very gimmicky. I find it odd that there are pretty much no games that take advantage of something as simple as 2 computer mice, but they come up with this interactive tabletop which really offers the exact same type of interaction that 2 mice would allow.

ragdoll kung fu (http://www.ragdollkungfu.com/ [ragdollkungfu.com] ) is the only game I can think of that actually uses 2 mice, and i think that game would be amazing on this device.

Projection? (2, Interesting)

4D6963 (933028) | about 8 years ago | (#15099252)

While it's kind of cool, the one thing that disappointed me is that it was based on projection and not a screen. Regardless of the costs and technical challenge it may cause, projection over a backlit LCD screen has the big disadvantage of having undisplayed areas (where your shadow is) and although it doesn't seem like a problem in the demonstartion video, I see it as limitating the comfort of this whole thing.

Re:Projection? (1)

Trinn (523103) | about 8 years ago | (#15099338)

These are rear-projection type screens, not front, so there's no shadow.

Re:Projection? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 8 years ago | (#15099376)

These are rear-projection type screens, not front, so there's no shadow.

Wait, are we talking about the same thing as in the video? The projection is coming from the top, and gets projected on people's arms, and under their arms is nothing but the shade.

Apple multi-touch (3, Insightful)

Teclis (772299) | about 8 years ago | (#15099460)

Just in case you think this is completely new:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=63791469 23853181774

The DiamondTouch system is a very different animal (1)

dlleigh (313922) | about 8 years ago | (#15099956)

First, the video you link to is not from Apple but from Jeff Han at NYU. It uses the technique of frustrated total internal reflection to allow arbitrary multi-touch gestures. It can detect touches on the screen in a fully pixelized manner. This technique does not, however, distinguish between the touches of different users. More information is available here [nyu.edu] . This is a very cool work.

MERL's DiamondTouch is a multi-user system and can tell distinguish between the touches of several users. If you're touching in one place and I'm touching in another, not only does the table detect both touches, but it can tell which of us touched which spot. Current DiamondTouch prototypes use an X-Y grid and so do not detect touches and gestures in a fully pixelized manner. This is a limitation of the current hardware, not the fundamental technology. You can read the original DiamondTouch paper here [merl.com] .

Also note that MERL DiamondTouch predates Jeff Han's work by about four years.

Re:The DiamondTouch system is a very different ani (1)

ParadyNexus (967387) | about 8 years ago | (#15100210)

Good Point, here's a comparison from the folks at Engadget:

"...this new DiamondTouch touch panel table interface has one thing NYU's unit lacked: game. IGN has video of the DiamondTouch panel in action, and it really appears to be a glorified top-down projection system -- which it is. The image is projected onto a white table, which contains the actual magic. By touching the table you complete a circuit that sends a signal through your body with the X/Y position of your touch. This means the table can handle multiple simultaneous touches, so you and your friends can all gather around and do gaming as it was meant to be done, tabletop style. Mitsubishi's system also includes voice control, and they show it all off with a fairly impressive demo of WarCraft III." - Paul Miller, Engadget (view article [engadget.com] )

Re:The DiamondTouch system is a very different ani (1)

ParadyNexus (967387) | about 8 years ago | (#15100283)

Also, NYU's stuff does not feature speech and gesture together. This also distinguishes the work from other gesture recognition system like the ones seen in Minority Report. Having speech and gesture opens up a whole new realm of interaction possibilities.

DiamondTouch itself does not do voice interaction (1)

dlleigh (313922) | about 8 years ago | (#15100334)

That was part Edward Tse's demo. DiamondTouch tables come with a library that handles gestures, but have no inherent hardware or software support for voice.

Re:Apple multi-touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15099982)

i know i liked it before it was cool too...

an excellent use for prisms... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | about 8 years ago | (#15099631)

imagine playing scrabble, and you set a prism (with one side-facing others-being one way glass) set over 'your' letters
you could see them in the mirror image on the side of the prism facing you- the other players could not.

Star wars? (-1, Flamebait)

jlcooke (50413) | about 8 years ago | (#15099654)

Don't play WoW with a wookie - he'll rip your arms off if he loses.

Re:Star wars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15099816)

Which is different in what way from how he wins?

RE: It doesn't game as well as a keyboard an mouse (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15099749)

From http://paradynexus.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] I've been recently reading some forums [shoutwire.com] commenting on work that I did at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories. Most of them are postive (there's usually a couple 'If your system could play some game I'd wet my pants' type comments) . A few conspiracy theorists seem to think that my demo is too good to be true - and someone calls me to task on my Warcraft skills.

First, I'd like to dispel the myth: this work is NOT fake, if you'd like to see exactly how we built this system please read our research paper [ucalgary.ca] . When you look under the hood you'll see that this system is really just a simple conversion of gestures and speech to standard keyboard and mouse commands.

Second, people commenting about how this system is not as good as a keyboard and a mouse are totally missing the point of this research. It's not about being more efficient than a keyboard and mouse but rather this work is about making actions public so that others can
double check to ensure the best outcomes.

Many things in life are not like WarCraft III where you can die and play again. Think about safety critical applications such as real life military command and control or air traffic control. Here the collaborative decisions have a direct impact on people's lives. By making actions public on the tabletop others can monitor your activity and ensure that you are doing the right thing.

Warcraft III is really designed as an example of a military command and control situation rather than a replacement for the keyboard and the mouse in the game.

Re: It doesn't game as well as a keyboard an mouse (1)

ParadyNexus (967387) | about 8 years ago | (#15099823)

Another Comment from http://paradynexus.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

A question from Rob "Xemu" Fermier regarding the lag in scrolling gestures.

[Rob] Very cool technology and a nice approach for demonstrating it. Using contemporary examples like Google Earth and Warcraft 3 is an excellent way of taking relatively abstract concepts and making them real for people. The gap between academia and "real world" software development is often pretty huge and it's great to see more approaches like this that can bridge that gap.

[Ed] Thank you. One of the things that I like most about my research is that computer games such as Warcraft III allow it to appeal to a larger audience. That is, my research is not only of interest to academics, but to the general public.

[Rob] I noticed the frame rate for scrolling, etc hitching a bit ... I'm curious if that was an artifact of the technology used to do gesture detection, or just the machine playing the game?

[Ed] Diamond Touch is a special type of input device for tables that can detect the gestures and movements of up to four people simultaneously. This input currently runs at a frame rate of 30 frames per second which does not seem like a lot but they are more than sufficient for gross gestures such as using a whole hand to pan a map. Also, since four people can interact simultaneously the effective frame rate is really 120 frames per second. Modern windows applications will often respond to the mouse at a rate of around 120 per second. This means that there is a bit of jerkiness in the Warcraft III panning gesture. This could be resolved by using interpolation of mouse events between frames. This is done in the Google Earth demo, thus the jerkiness is almost non visible.

Certainly the limitations of today's tabletop technologies would make it difficult to play Warcraft III as well as you can with a mouse and keyboard. But eventually, these limitations will be overcome and we will be able to interact with computer games in ways that were previously not possible. I detail some of the possibilities in a recent paper [ucalgary.ca] published at Pervasive Games 2006. It's important to realize that tabletop games are not replacements for mouse and keyboards over Warcraft III. Rather, tabletop games represent a new genre of gaming where people can interact face to face rather than having to look away from each other as we do with current console games. Being able to interact with rich hand gestures and speech provides an engaging experience that normally can only be found when manipulating physical objects such as a gun in an arcade.

The goal of this research is to understand the capabilities and limitations of speech and gesture tabletop interaction. This will hopefully inform the design of future multimodal tabletop games.

Minority Report (3, Insightful)

Ugmo (36922) | about 8 years ago | (#15099901)

This reminded me of the Minority Report Movie where the computer interface was gestural.

The differences are that Minority Report had a vertical, transparent display, not a table top but this tabletop version is definitely something different than the WIMP (Windows, Icons, Mouse, pointer) interface. The two hand select was very nice. Another feature I liked was that the voice command system did not seem to get confused when he was commenting on the steps he was taking as opposed to giving the system instructions.

Lots of Press Articles About this. (1)

ParadyNexus (967387) | about 8 years ago | (#15100795)

There have been tons of publications of this work with comments that you might want to read up on. For example, from Engadget:

"...this new DiamondTouch touch panel table interface has one thing NYU's unit lacked: game. IGN has video of the DiamondTouch panel in action, and it really appears to be a glorified top-down projection system -- which it is. The image is projected onto a white table, which contains the actual magic. By touching the table you complete a circuit that sends a signal through your body with the X/Y position of your touch. This means the table can handle multiple simultaneous touches, so you and your friends can all gather around and do gaming as it was meant to be done, tabletop style. Mitsubishi's system also includes voice control, and they show it all off with a fairly impressive demo of WarCraft III." - Paul Miller, Engadget (view article [engadget.com] )

From Joystiq

"...let's be honest, Mitsubishi really throws down here. Unsatisfied with pretty light shows or boring diagrams, they're out to research that ancient query, "But what about the games?" Using Warcraft III, the fellas at MERL are able to use voice and touch to control the game in what appears to be an impressively seamless fashion." -John Choo, Joystiq (view article [joystiq.com] )

From HipTech Blog

"...brings the exciting possibility of multiple simultaneous touches. Another notable feature is the speech recognition that is demonstrated in the video, although I can't imagine myself talking to a table non-stop for the whole duration of a 4v4 game. Now if the MERL team could show us a video of a real game of WarCraft on the DiamondTouch and played with skill, I would probably wet my pants." -Leo Huang, HipTech Blog (view article [hiptechblog.com] )

Same problem. (1)

jfz (917930) | about 8 years ago | (#15106462)

So now I can accuse friends of table watching instead of screen watching when I get pwned? Great.
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