By Vincent Mcdermott
Combining dance and the iconic arcade game Pong is the sort of thing the internet notices. During the holiday season, Pong Prom, a project created by Ryerson new media graduate Ed Keeble, was featured on a number of tech and video game blogs including Gizmodo and Technabob.
The art project, first displayed at Ryerson’s new media show, Maximum Exposure, last April, turns the participants into human ping-pong paddles. The dancers wear white hoodies decked out with Lilypad Arduino boards and accelerometers. Conductive fabric at the cuffs, shoulders and waist connect the two players as they dance and the arduinos display a series of red LED lights on the shirts in the familiar Pong layout.
Standing at a distance acceptable to middleschool dances, the couple controls the paddles by swaying back and forth. They must work together to keep the ball going up and down their displays.
“I wanted to develop something that was competitive and collaborative,” Keeble said. “Some people who tried it at the show got really competitive, while one couple just decided to make out,” he said. It wasn’t until December that technology blogs and hobbyists discovered Pong Prom on the internet. Despite the exposure, there are no plans to market the project.
“I’ve been approached by some European companies about selling it,” he said. “But I don’t know what the feasability for selling it would be like.”
At this point, Keeble said planning another event is just a possibility. “With the exposure, another event may be possible,” he said. “Maybe something more robust.”
Keeble is writing instructions for anyone interested in building their very own Pong Prom. He plans to post them on his website, www.covertathleticscom, by Jan. 15.