Everybody in our team loves games and entertainment. There's nothing as addictive as jamming buttons and trying to beat a stressfully annoying game for a high score. So, we figured, why not have a game which picks up on our emotions and uses them as feedback to customize an entertainment experience?
What it does
The game is fairly simple and is a proof of concept for how a biosensory iOS game would work. The goal of the game is to kill the creepy spiders descending down from the top of the screen onto poor Winston, who's trapped on the floor,. As you swipe away the spiders, a Microsoft band across your wrist will be tracking your heart rate in real time and displaying this information as you play, letting you know how calm you are. Your high score will be a combination of your success in keeping Winston healthy by killing spiders and how "calm" you were, or how low you were able to keep your heart rate from deviating from its resting rate.
How I built it
Our team built this game by primarily using the Unity game engine and C#. The heart rate information was accessed by the iOS application using the Microsoft Band API and processed in an Objective C based application.
Challenges I ran into
Our initial backend framework for obtaining heart rate data was written in Swift, but we later discovered Unity can only export an iOS project in Objective C. Thus a large amount our efforts went into converting the Swift code to Objective C. Additionally, learning and troubleshooting Unity was a challenge as it was a new technology to all of us and builds often took long periods of time.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We are very proud of learning Unity overnight and building an iOS game, as well as being able to build a project in languages we had very little to no prior experience with. We are also proud of how calm we were able to remain while watching horror movie trailers to calibrate the device.
What I learned
Firstly, we learned how to use several new technologies (Unity, Objective C, Microsoft Band). Also, this was our first Hackathon, so we learned how to work together, be resourceful and work with both front end and back ends. We learned how to optimize amount of swag obtained vs free time not spent hacking, and most of all, we learned how to dive into something completely new for all of us.
What's next for Winston's Pretty Much Dead
This is the most exciting area for us. With this game, we hoped to show that incorporating biometric measurements can enhance an entertainment experience. Within games, the next step would be to build a suite of games that don't simply use heart rate as a means of scoring, but react. For example, how cool would it be to have a game that adjusts its soundtrack or its mechanics when you're in a state of paranoia (high heart rate, blood pressure) to create an experience customized to your body and mind?
Additionally, an idea we had that we didn't have time to implement was to use heart rate sensing to enhance movie and live event experiences. For example, by gathering heart rate data of a crowd watching the Olympics or a horror movie fan at the theaters, it could be possible to create a highlight reel customized to the viewer of what was most exciting, and use the data to predict which athlete, movie or event the user would most be excited by.