October 6 , 2003, Vol. 74, No. 7F
Tele-Twister project proves that fun and games can also be educational
Ken Goldberg has put on new twist on Twister. Tele-Twister, his cyber
version of the 60s party game gives it a chess-like element while
allowing him to collect data for his teleactor project.
anyone with Internet access can play a lunchtime game of Tele-Twister
by logging onto www.tele-actor.net/tele-twister and strategically directing
the moves of two actors. The real-time video of the game is then streamed
onto the site.
is played by placing hands and feet on the colored circles of a Twister
board. The objective is to stay standing while your opponents topple
from their precarious, pretzel-like pose. While the spin of a dial determines
the next move in Twister, Tele-Twister relies on strategy and cooperation
between team players to plot the course of a game.
two people can physically play the game, an unlimited number of players
can divide into two teams and direct the action.
falls under the scope of Goldbergs collaborative telerobot research
project. The idea is to use consensus to allow many Internet users to
control one object simultaneously.
his research group collects from each game help them answer questions
on how large groups achieve coordinated control. Each game of Tele-Twister
not only tests the systems technical capabilities but also compiles
valuable statistics on group interaction.
goal of the project is to produce an interactive, cooperative, Internet-based
program that allows a group of students to have a hands-on, engaging
and active educational experience.
learn science better when they are doing things versus listening to
lectures. We want to introduce an element of action and competition
to the learning process to engage them, says Goldberg.
of competition in Tele-Twister extends beyond team victory by also scoring
individual performance. Points are given for being the first to pick
the consensus move. This scoring system rewards leadership, strategy,
sponsorship from the National Science Foundation and Berkeleys
Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society
(CITRIS), Tele-Twister has garnered funding from Intel, which is interested
in its entertainment value.
Dezhen Song is pursuing a Ph.D. studying the mathematical theory and
systems design behind Tele-Twister and related projects. He and Goldberg
work closely with other graduate students, such as Jane McGonigal of
performance studies, an expert in interactive games, and undergrad In
Yong Song, an EECS senior who engineered the advanced Java applet that
coordinates user interactions.
are bridging the gap between technology and reality and figuring out
how to create a cooperative tele-presence environment using technology,
like the Internet, that is accessible to the average student,
says Dezhen Song.
For more on teleoperation research visit www.ieor.berkeley.edu/~goldberg/