Film Controller “Hold On” Lets You Punch Chuck Norris, and Get Away With It

As video games grow to mimic movies more and more, the desire to experience the two in harmony with each other is greater than ever.

What I mean is that sensation you suddenly get when playing “Uncharted” to watch “Indiana Jones”. Or, the opposite that makes a “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” viewing lead to a “Red Dead Redemption” marathon. The examples go on, but for media junkies the combination of gaming and movies provides the ultimate fix.

Now two inventors, Emilie Brout & Maxime Marion, are unifying that media relationship in a very interesting way, courtesy of their device called “Hold On“. Exhibited at the recent GAMERZ festival, “Hold On” uses a very simple set-up that includes two buttons and a joystick (the basic arcade cabinet) and allows you to manipulate characters and situations in some of your favorite movies. Examples so far include turning a nature documentary with dung beetles into a puzzle game, attempting to delay the death of your film crew in “The Blair Witch Project”, navigating the halls of that infamous haunted hotel in “The Shining” on Danny’s tricycle, and perhaps best of all, controlling Bruce Lee in his infamous film fight against a young Chuck Norris from “Way of the Dragon“.

The creators say they’ve been able to incorporate 15 interactive movie moments so far, all of which offer some sort of basic manipulation of the scene on display that work similar to the classic arcade title “Dragon’s Lair” in terms of your abilities. It’s not so much about the complexity though as it is the intriguing idea of combing a familiar fictional situation with the enhanced emotional attachment of personal involvement, as well as an uncertain outcome, as the user it not necessarily bound to the same results as the film scene, and certainly not the same path.

So far, outside of an extremely entertaining and well received demonstration, there isn’t much in the way of plans for “Hold On” at this time. However, it would be interesting to see a more developed version turn into something similar to the party game “Scene It”, or for it to be incorporated into major home video, or digital streaming, releases to give the user interactive options (trivia and mini-games via special features would probably be the best bets) during some of their favorite films.

In whatever capacity the tool is eventually used in, it’s already pretty clear that between this project, and the group’s other (a modification of Google Earth that lets you explore movie worlds) that they are fanatics of both film and technology, as well as skilled practitioners in the use of both. It’s the biggest reason why this device, while not unprecedented in its technology, may go on to success in whatever endeavor it  chooses, and provide film and game fans with the greatest tool to relieve and personally experience their passions yet.


Glow in the Dark Roads: An Intelligent Idea for a “Smart” World

The idea of the “smart” device has changed our lives pretty significantly in the last decade.

It’s all based around a, somewhat ironically, simple concept that basically states “Why should you just have a (blank) when you can have a (blank) that (blanks)”. The pursuit of that idea has led us to many world changing innovations, but has also contributed superfluous gadgets like refrigerators that are twitter capable.

Now there’s an entirely new “smart” object in development in the Netherlands, and it’s hard to tell which category it will ultimately fit in.

Creator Daan Roosegaarde is currently working on a five year plan that will add interactive lights to the major roads of the Netherlands. Essentially, the project will replace the more traditional road markings with a powder that gathers up to 10 hours worth of charge during the day, so that it may shine at night and give them a glow in the dark effect. The idea is to replace the more traditional street lights which can be expensive, cumbersome, and visually unappealing with a more organic (in a design sense) and attractive alternative. The lights will also be in tune with the conditions of the road as the idea is that below freezing temperatures they will form a snowflake shape that will instantly alert drivers to dangerous conditions.

Roosegaarde and his team are not only trying to bring roads into the modern world visually, but also see some larger practical benefits to the dynamic paint. Particularly when it comes to cost, as they estimated that hundreds of thousands of dollars can be saved annually by this new system once it is in place on a large scale. The need for a cheaper light source is highlighted by the recent decision by UK authorities to dim or turn off lights by 9 PM on certain motorways due to the rising cost of keeping them running at full capacity 24 hours a day.

However, the idea of a “glow in the dark” highway is just one of many concepts the team is dreaming up, with the larger goal being to create a truly smart roadway system that will also incorporate ideas like wind power lights, proximity lights, and electric car only lanes that can help charge the car along the way. Already, their ideas have won the ‘Best Concept’ award at the Dutch Design Awards, and as they slowly come into production, the creative team at the helm is imagining expansions to other regions of Europe, Asia, and the U.S. west coast which has romantic ties with the highway system and is a forefront of transportation innovations of their own at the moment.

300 meters of the road paint will get its first trial by 2013, and from there the reception will dictate the implication of some of the other smart concepts.

Considering we live in a world where various intriguing ideas are introduced at a blazing speed, it can be difficult to predict if even the most creative of which will end up being successful. However, regardless of the reaction to these “Smart Road” concepts, it opens up an interesting idea of modifying one of our most basic institutions (the road) to work more intelligently in a world constantly doing the same, and as such makes it pretty easy to root for.

Of course, if the actual product ends up as beautiful as the concept, we could be looking at a new world where keeping your eyes on the road is the distraction.