What is it?
Floor It! is arcade car racing brought to life. The radio-controlled cars sense and react to arcade inspired course conditions like oil slicks, turbo power-ups, water hazards, and more. The Floor It! race cars are controlled through a realistic free floating steering wheel. There are two compartments in the steering wheel, one which houses the vehicle, and the other the re-useable course conditions and accessories. The steering wheel becomes a convenient carrying case that enables the child to keep everything in one place and easily transport it.
The idea was to create a compelling competitive experience for boys 7-10 years old. We were interested in creating a bridge between physical and virtual play. The solution needed to be flexible, allow for creativity, keep the child’s interest and most importantly encourage kids to play together. Expanding on known paradigms, Floor It! racing was born.
How it works
The vehicles are controlled with a free floating steering wheel. When the wheel is turned left and right the vehicle acts accordingly, just like a real steeringvwheel. Tilting the steering wheel forward and back controls the throttle and direction of the car. Optional throttle and brake buttons can be used in place of the throttle tilt control.
As the car drives over the course conditions on the ground, the car reacts to it. Drive over an oil slick and the car will spin wildly out of control. Water traps will slow the car down. Hitting a green arrow will give the car an extra turbo boost.
Course conditions are made of a thin elastomer (rubber material) or electrostatic sticker which sticks almost anywhere but can be easily removed. Thus you can put your oil slick anywhere and pick it up when you are done. Flexible and re-usuable course conditions allows you to create a race track almost anywhere.
Electronic scoring gates provide a ranking and rating system for different types of races and challenges. The scoring gates can also store information over time to provide a weighted index or ranking of different cars or racers.
The steering wheel control system was well received and liked by the kids it was tested with. There was no clear preference for either the tilt throttle or the push-button throttle system. The tilt throttle system took some getting used to but was quickly grasped. The push-button system simplifies car control as the there is only one axis of movement to co-ordinate control. There was a lot of curiosity running over the course conditions to see what they would do to the car.
Rather than mastering an on-screen level of a video game, the racer has the chance to master the control of the car. More practice and better control of the car will translate into better race results.
The steering wheel controller gives the racer the experience of driving with a real steering wheel instead of an abstract game controller. Speakers in the steering wheel provide engine noise to match the level of speed the car is going. A vibration unit in the steering wheel makes the wheel rumble when you are going fast or hit certain course conditions!
You can imagine and produce your own racetracks by using the course conditions. Due to the fact that the course conditions are so flexible you have the opportunity to even create your own course conditions. You can choose to race in a traditional sense or create and compete in other timed games.
The electronic scoring gates provide a way of tracking race results between you and your friends. With a pro-rating system every racer can find out where they rate amongst their friends. With different race and challenge possibilities, the scoring gates provide all the remaining video game aspects to real life arcade racing.
The overall system provides a video game experience in real life. The real-life version however provides endless levels, limited only by the imagination of the player designing the racecourse. There are no levels to learn and get bored of. The control system further develops and draws upon spatial reasoning and co-ordination skills. Mastering the car and its controls provides a greater satisfaction as a tangible real world skill is developed.
The car electronics are based on an electronics platform also designed by Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. This platform is called “Wiring” by Hernando BarragÃ¡n.
Wiring is a programming environment and electronics I/O board for exploring
the electronic arts, tangible media, teaching and learning computer
programming and prototyping with electronics. It illustrates the concept of
programming with electronics and the physical realm of hardware control
which are necessary to explore physical interaction design and tangible
Wiring is an open project initiated by Hernando BarragÃ¡n (University of Los
Andes | Architecture and Design School). Wiring started at the Interaction
Design Institute Ivrea and it is currently developed at the University of
Los Andes. Wiring builds on Processing, an open project initiated by Ben Fry
(Broad Institute) and Casey Reas (UCLA Design | Media Arts). Processing
evolved from ideas explored in the Aesthetics and Computation Group at the
MIT Media Lab.
Project by: Micheal Albers & Shawn Bonkowski
“Play experiences for the next generation Mattel Design Summit 2005 – IDII”
Professors: Jan Christoph Zoels, Yaniv Steiner & Ralph Ammer.