© 2010 plex. All rights reserved. Piplex by Plastic Interaction

The Pingus Plasticine Experience

Piplex – Pingus Plasticine Experience from Plastic Interaction on Vimeo.

Piplex Demo at IDC Conference (2010) from Plastic Interaction on Vimeo.

Piplex is an augmented reality video game where players can solve puzzles using plasticine and cardboard. It has been developed over the PLEX framework, a natural user interface for physical interaction. As a family-friendly experience, Piplex combines individual and collaborative performance, entertainment and learning content, and has been tested in different research fields such as Human Computer Interaction, education and video game technology.
Piplex is a project of Plastic Interaction, a studio based on Barcelona, Spain.

A child playing Piplex

The game
Piplex is a puzzle, platform video game where the user plays with plasticine and cardboard. It uses an Augmented Reality platform called PLEX, a Natural User Interface that allows the use of familiar and malleable materials. In Piplex, the users have to guide a group of penguins to an exit gate through different scenarios full of danger and obstacles. Firstly, the players use textured cardboard to build the scenario. Afterwards, they use coloured plasticine onto the personalized maps to create structures that will drive the penguins to the exit.

Action Schema Piplex

Why this game
Piplex presents a family-friendly experience that can be played in individual, collaborative, and  competitive modes by users of all ages.  In Piplex, the controllers are replaced with tangible and malleable objects. Its gameplay, based on everyday knowledge, favours  intuitive approaches to processes such as scenario design, puzzle solving and multi-user collaboration.  Also, Piplex has been designed with the conviction that entertainment and learning can be combined in a single experience. Therefore, the PLEX framework allows for classic goal-oriented puzzle games, but also fosters exploration and collaboration in open-ended modes of playing.

Piplex allows universal access for all kind of players. Using the PS3 eye, infants, young and adults are able to play the video game without the need of any game pad. In the case of young children, it also reinforces their visual-tactile dexterity, a key element for their psycho-motor development. By means of coloured plasticine and textured cardboard, Piplex provides an intuitive interface that can be easily modified at many degrees to interact with virtual objects on the screen. It allows the whole family to play together and design home-made scenarios.

The puzzle tradition allows for a complete range of problem-solving strategies, from simple maps to complex scenarios. Its combination with traditional materials provides a solid background for learning content and exploratory education in schools. The Piplex physical interface can be deployed over a table, but also on the ground or over a carpet, without compromising the game experience or the security of younger players, since no electric equipment is manipulated during the game.

The Future
In order to extend the possible number of game’s application with PLEX framework, the following features can be developed:

* Detection of shape patterns and geometric forms
* Manipulation of virtual elements with users’ hands
* Detection of plasticine in 3 dimensions

With these new features, added up with the current ones, a powerful framework will allow to create open-ended applications where users of all ages can build diverse types of worlds, create graphic compositions and artworks using a broader ranges of interactive tools. Moreover, music applications -which are an important trend in electronic creation and entertainment- can be implemented to offer new models of sound composition for children by placing different materials in the space. Finally, the development of educative applications, in both collaborative and individual scenarios,  can offer an important added value to this framework by promoting its use all around the world as a family and learning experience.

Commercial applications
Currently, PIPLEX works with Play Station technology, namely the PS3 Eye. Hence, it is important to mention that bringing PIPLEX prototype to a commercial product, will mostly be a matter of designing a tripod to fix with the eye toy vertically over the play surface (figure). In addition, to make PLEX detect materials in any light condition, it is favorable to trademark the textured cardboard and plasticine.

Behind Piplex
Piplex has been developed by an interdisciplinary team with a deep research background in non-conventional interactive experiences, tangible and music technologies, educative applications, psychology and design. We pursue to reinvent the uses of technology through simple powerful concepts in the path for ubiquitous computing. Piplex is an nice example of our vision and motivations when combining to combine traditional familiar materials with artificial vision and video-games.

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