BOMB SQUAD is a physical shared-experience game with the aim of peer communication promotion and relationship improvement. For each round, it requires 4 participants to operate their own puzzles together. It contains 4 types of puzzles - button, wire, slider, switch. What's more, after solving 4 puzzles, they should input correct number into keypad to completely relieve this crisis! All participants ought to solve each puzzle in the order of slider, button, switch and wire. The progress bar at the top shows the number of puzzles they have solved. When green light turns on, they can move to the next puzzle task. The game is under 5-min time limitation which distributes average duration for each puzzle.
During game, each of participant should figure out the principle of solution with her/his teammates via continuous talk. The most challenging part of the game is nobody can use memory skill to remember any rules before game. All they can do is use their imagination and creativity, to complete team work successfully. They can also get break time between each puzzle to have discussion and reflect work so that they can play better in the next turn. This game should be funny and challenging as well, and let people learn some lesson from it.
The technology we used is Arduino with C# programming. The number of Arduino is 5 - 1 for placing 4 timers and 1 keypad, and each of remaining UNO contains 4 puzzles' circuits. We used digital pins on Arduino to connect puzzle's circuit. One long LED strip is utilized for showing reminders and results of all puzzles, and it uses both analog and digital pin to work.
In terms of physical form, in each suitcase, there is a transparent board with 4 puzzles. the slider has two forms - sliding up and down, rotating left and right. The buttons are in blue, yellow, green buttons from left to right. 3 switches are in pairs with on/off options. People can plug in/out 3 wires in different orders. The transparent board also shows the serial numbers of puzzles as well as participants.
A long LED strip is divided into 6 segments. the first part indicates whole progress of the game, it's in red at the beginning. It turns into green from left to right in the process. The second and third section is for slider, only when 4 players set the slider in the same place they can pass. Next part is in role of prompts and results - blue, yellow, green lights will flash in order and solid frequency, and another LED is for result giving. The switch's and wire's LED strips only turn to green when the corresponding task is completed.
In shared box, it has a timer on each side for ensuring each person can see the remained time. A 10-digit keypad is placed on the top of box to let people press final digits.
The code for each puzzle is done separately, then put together and uploaded onto each Arduino so that the puzzles can work while only in power.
The feedback and responses from the public were amazing as we weren’t able to get our prototype working in time for the exhibit, but it was apparent that a lot of people were interested and intrigued about our concept. As per our conversations with the public, audiences understood that our concept was a team-building activity that focuses on communication and were able to visualize how our concept would facilitate our problem space. Our setup for the exhibition included the prototype itself (4 aluminum brief cases and 1 timer box), three different posters, multiple copies of our brochure, promotional stickers, a leader board (whiteboard) and a polaroid (to capture teams that would complete our activity). Due to our positioning at the exhibit, we were able to secure bay 7 which was in front of the entrance where we were able to expect a lot of visitors and users. The most frequently asked question from the public was “How does it work?” but of course this was due to our prototype not functioning, however through discussions, explanations and our supporting materials, audiences were able to understand our objective and found our concept a promising method in developing communication skills, team-building and effective cooperation. Many users loved the aesthetic of our design where we designed the clear acrylic board to showcase the wiring and especially the aluminum brief cases, as they thought it suited the context we were developing for.
For the next phase in future development, our goal would be to make the general ambiance and experience of our concept more ‘intense’, as our research dictates that intense/hectic environments improves communication among teams as users would feel the need to communicate effectively and efficiently. Possibly enhancing and including sound effects for each operation whether it be a ticking noise for the timer, a buzzing effect that vibrates the brief case or a military voice that alerts the team what the current time is. There is no doubt that sound feedback should appear with each puzzle's completion and final defusal/completion of the activity. Furthermore, enhancing our concept would also require possibly the addition of difficulty levels as some groups/teams may find our concept too simple after the first or second puzzle as they’ll already understand the game mechanism, therefore implementing more complicated game rules and puzzles that relied upon more than a 1:1 interaction but possibly 1:2 or 1:3 interaction (for example, the button puzzle will require 3 players pressing the button at the same time based on the other member’s LED output). Though our concept does require communication among all group members, it would be exciting to further develop our concept with a more complex interaction plan among the team members.
From the earlier stages of our concept, we prototyped and discussed different rules/methods on creating a team-building activity and we had ideas on users having specific knowledge on completing specific puzzles, therefore differentiating different roles in a team could be a possibility. Additionally, we came up with an idea that players would be limited on what they were able to see, as they may only view another player’s brief case and restrict vision to their own case which would increase the difficulty and experience of our design. It would be interesting to develop our concept into a Virtual Reality aspect as we’ll be able to develop the environment accordingly to different scenarios and maybe possibly towards a different context rather than a ‘bomb defusal’.
Though we at Team Co-Op have many plans and ideas on how we could improve our concept, it was great to see that we were able to develop a viable product that showcases our solution for improving communication in a team environment but also providing inspiration and a blueprint for future projects in a similar problem space.