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Interactive Board Games Will Come to Life

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Queen's University researchers have built the prototype of an interactive board game that enables users to touch tiles together or "pour" the contents of a tile onto another to make virtual villages rise up from the ground or soldiers swarm off a ship to do battle.

Queen's computer scientist Roel Vertegaal says the developers drew inspiration from the popular board game "Settlers of Catan," in which players try to build settlements, cities, and roads that control certain resources. The researchers used blank hexagonal tiles that could serve as backgrounds for a digital projection. A computer then renders virtual board game action onto the tiles.

Eventually, board games could use organic light-emitting diodes or E-Ink technologies, similar to those in ebook readers, which could turn each tile into a visual display. Such interactive board games could come to life in the next five to 10 years, Vertegaal says.

Queen's Human Media Lab also has experimented with projecting interfaces from smartphones onto three-dimensional objects such as Styrofoam.

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