Flexible Light Pong Is a One-Dimensional Games Console

This tube-shaped, microcontroller-powered "console" promises multi-dimensional fun in a one-dimensional play space.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months agoGaming

Aaqib Usman and colleagues have launched a crowdfunding campaign for a novel gaming device, Light Pong, that lets you play single-player and multiplayer games across just one dimension — and which may be the only flexible tube-shaped games console in history.

"Light Pong is gaming as you've never seen it before," Usman promises. "We have created the world's first one-dimensional game console — the most epic new addition to your Saturday night that you didn't even know you needed. Play solo or challenge a friend on one of the many games; pick it up and play (whether you're 6 or 106); light up the room with awesome lighting effects. Endless fun, anywhere."

Claiming to be the first commercial one-dimensional games console, Light Pong is definitely eye-catching. (📹: Aaqib Usman)

The hardware itself is certainly eye-catching: A flexible tube, filled with 150 LEDs, on each end of which is a single two-button controller. It comes with a number of games pre-loaded, of which Usman has revealed five: Ping Pong, in which a glowing ball needs to be batted from one end to the other using the buttons; Tug of War, which splits the tube in two and requires rapid button-mashing; and the single-player reaction games Rev & Release, Cyclone, and Hurdles.

To maintain interest once the stock games have been played to exhaustion, Usman promises a companion app for Android and iOS which will allow new games to be downloaded and installed, the customization of a glowing-light ambient mode, and the potential for wireless multiplayer across multiple Light Pong consoles — providing a planned stretch goal is reached.

For developers, a CircuitPython-based development framework is provided - and full suorce code will be provided. "For each Light Pong game that we produce," Usman promises, "we will release its source code online for you to poke, prod, mod, analyze, and steal (or borrow? Really, it’s okay if you don’t intend on giving it back.)"

While the hardware has been prototyped, however, it hasn't yet been finalised. "Light Pong will be powered by either an ATSAMD51, ATSAMD21 ESP32 or ESP32-S2," Usman explains. "While we'd love to have this set in stone by now, the reality of the current microchip shortage means we'll only know what we can get after we receive funding and know how many units we're making. The good news is that after months of testing, we've validated that all three of these options are all more than powerful enough to be the core of our console."

Usman's design isn't the first one-dimensional game we've seen: Three years ago Great Scott Gadgets unveiled the 1D Pong Game, which used buttons rather than a flexible tube and which was powered by an Arduino Nano connected to an individually-addressable LED strip which acted as the display.

The project is currently funding on Kickstarter with physical rewards priced at $79 for early bird backers — a claimed 43% of the Light Pong's eventual retail price — with deliveries expected to begin in September 2022.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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