Daft Pong

In collaboration with colleagues at Cambridge University, at a workshop in 2009, as part of the Creator Project, we produced a means by which to extract real-time data from the predominantly ‘offline’ Vicon processing engine. This allowed us to send three dimensional Cartesian coordinates in OSC format over a network using UDP. This allowed us to then make use of these values in software such as PD, MaxMSP or, indeed, any software application which can accept real-time numerical variables as input... The possibie uses for this are endless!..

Jam45In order to demonstrate the potential of this system, in 2010, I devised a showcase called Daft Pong, which took the online application iDaft as a starting point, but developed it far beyond what’s currently possible in an online application.

Newcastle Science FestIt was premiered at a live event at Culture Lab entitled Jam45; An Evening of Audiovisual Tomfoolery and has since been featured at Maker Faire at Newcastle Science Festival in 2011.


Daft Pong uses motion capture to trace a special reflectively-coated ping pong ball during the course of a table tennis match and used its location information to trigger audio and visual feedback. Every time the ball bounces, for example, its location on the table is illuminated by a glow from a ceiling mounted projector and a sample from Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ plays in sync with a background loop of Edwin Birdsong’s ‘Cola Bottle Baby’ (the original sample upon which the Daft Punk track is based). Each section of the table prompts a different sample, much like the online application.

Additionally, the bats are also tracked using optical markers and their positions alter the phase, volume and distortion of the music. Furthermore, upon exceeding a certain programmable speed, the movement of the bats themselves trigger additional cues.

The result is a fun, immersive, itnteractive digital gaming experience in which the digitally augmented elements provide real-time feedback to the players.

The intention of this showcase was initially to demonstrate what is possible using real-time 3D data from the Vicon motion capture system. However, since motion tracking technology is now far more widely available via technologies such as Microsoft Kinect and openframeworks, it is also a useful test scenario for comparing different portable, real-time tracking systems.

The MaxMSP patches I developed for this project are available to view here.