Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Simon says there's a "whole lotta shakin' going on"

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July 10, 2012

The qualifying entry from North Street Labs for this year's Red Bull Creation competition ...

The qualifying entry from North Street Labs for this year's Red Bull Creation competition is a bone-shaking modern take on the 1980s electronic follow-me game Simon

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Part of the huge appeal of the electronic follow-me game of Simon was its simplicity. Anyone in the family could step up and play without needing advanced scientific know-how or seriously fast hand-to-eye co-ordination skills. It was an entertaining challenge where the punishment for incorrectly following Simon's lead resulted in no more than a disapproving buzzer sound ... until now. A group of hackers has constructed a modern violence edition as a qualifying entry for this year's Red Bull Creation competition that is quite literally a bone shaker.

Life in Thatcher's Britain during the 1980s was a dynamic melting pot of incredible highs and desperate lows. The short, sharp shock of the punk rock hurricane was immediately followed by a backwash of designer-driven energy. The streets of the metropolis were filled with sharply-dressed yuppies with huge mobile phones who almost taunted the desperation of striking coal miners and the heart-wrenching TV images of human suffering in Africa by their mere presence. A new wave of comedy placed government and the Establishment firmly in its cross-hairs, popular music was a mixed bag of creativity, optimism and distraction, and many people still read broadsheet newspapers instead of today's online newsbites.

The original game of Simon

Into this turbulent landscape dropped a simple game of memory and skill that quickly found its way into many households up and down the country. Based on an Atari arcade game, Simon featured four colored pads that lit up and produced tones in an ever more complicated random pattern. Once the game set the challenge, the player had to flawlessly repeat the sequence to move onto the next level.

According the Guinness World Records, the longest game ever recorded was in 2003 when Joel Berger managed 14 sequences at the Hasbro Games in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

Errors made on the original game resulted in a rather unpleasant rasping buzzer sound that loudly advertised the player's failure to everyone else in the room. Mistakes made on a coin-operated chair/desk hack from Portsmouth, Virginia's North Street Labs (NSL) look like much more fun than actually bothering to correctly follow the pattern ... unless you have any loose fillings that you don't want shaking out.

When the player gets beyond the fourth round, a failure is triggered which sets off a 2000...

Designed and built as a qualifier for the Red Bull Creation 2012 72-hour live build challenge (which runs from July 19 to 22), "Simon: Violence Edition" starts with an unsuspecting passer-by being attracted to the fairly innocent looking chair/desk-on-a-platform setup by wirelessly triggered beeping sounds. After inserting a coin into the slot and taking a seat, the game starts like any other, with the player following the patterns suggested by the device. In more than one sense, though, this game is rigged.

When the player gets beyond the fourth round, a failure is triggered whether a correct answer is given or not. This sets off a 2000-watt industrial floor sander hidden underneath the platform, accompanying the player's bone-shaking ride with flashing red lights and loud noises.

At the heart of the machine is a custom Arduino board supplied by Red Bull called the Bull...

At the heart of the machine is a custom Arduino board supplied by Red Bull called the Bullduino that's been interfaced with a PSX wireless controller, 25A/600V triacs, the floor sander, a pair of speakers via a 30-watt amp, 20 RGB LEDs, the game's four push buttons and a coin slot detector. According to NSL, the vibrations from the sander are so powerful that it broke away the group's first set of buttons and loosened all of the assembly screws upon activation.

Seeing is believing, so they say, so have a look at the following short video demonstration and let us know what you think:

Source: North Street Labs

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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