As all the programmers we also experience the downsides of hours of hacking in front of computers. While researchers constantly encourage the importance of stretching exercise to release tension in our muscles, it is not always an appealing activity. As it is difficult to get out of the work zone, we propose a nerdy and fun solution that also takes good care of your health. Inspired by the Arthritis Research UK, we designed a software that encourages the programmers to remotely control the game flow while exercising the neck and face muscles.
What it does
It allows the users to remotely control the game using the movement of their necks and heads in near real time, which are based on the simple excercises recommended by the Arthritis Research UK. Consequently it releases the tension and allows you to take a break from intensive work. More importantly, it is a great fun!
How we built it
We used the Microsoft Cognitive Services, in particular, faces and emotions APIs to track the position of the head with respect to xy axes in order to link the user movement to the game control. In addition, a twist was added with the emotions API to perform certain actions with some facial expressions. We used Pygame and multithreading to control the game flow in near real time. We implemented two games, a Tetris and a Football dribbler for different target groups. We also considered features to alert the users when they stayed in the same position for too long, and offered a game.
Challenges we ran into
Multi-processing in coordination with the Pygame module. Multiple Pygame surfaces didn't agree. The design of the game control with nice graphics.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Linking different components together, in particular, the real time capture with running games.
What we learned
Pygame, Microsoft Cognitive Services, near real time camera capture
What's next for Hack A Neck
Adding more fun games, More movement control, user notification on inactivity, speech API, learning the trends with machine learning, customised games.