Erin Finnegan

A Backscratcher Game

In this augmented reality game, you scratch bugs off your back with a backscratcher.

Introduction to Physical Computing

The game’s player stands holding a backscratcher and facing a monitor, or, more ideally, a short-throw projector. A webcam positioned behind the player shoots their back, such that the player sees his or her own back on the screen. Bugs then appear on screen, on the player’s back. The player uses an ordinary backscratcher (modified only slightly for the game) to knock the bugs off of his or her own back.

The end of the backscratcher is tracked via color in Processing, which tracks either a brightly colored bit of tape on the backscratcher, or an infrared LED embedded in the backscratcher. In case of an IR LED, the backscratcher is outfitted with batteries so it remains wireless.

The player has the option of choosing from cute bugs to combat, (cartoon spiders, for example), or more deadly insects, like bed bugs or fire ants. Future versions of the game may include the option for the player to upload an image of their own nemesis to “get off their back,” such as a coworker, a Politian, or, more abstractly, the word “anxiety”.

Currently, an operator is needed to select the player’s back on the screen and start the game, but this may not be necessary in future versions.

All ages! It's a game anyone can enjoy, especially casual gamers, your parents, children age five and up, etc.