Enter the Locomatrix

I came across a really neat concept yesterday. At first I thought it was completely hatstands and that no one would ever buy into it, but after much thought, I’m now sitting on the fence – see what you think…

My friend told me about this new technology developed in Brighton called Locomatrix. It uses GPS triangulation to turn your mobile phone into a gaming device. ‘Gaming device’ I thought, ‘mobile phones are already game devices, just look at the iPhone’. Well, this is a bit different.

By pinpointing your position on the earth, you can actually assume the role of the character in the game. Take Fruit Farmer, the first game developed on the format, for example…

Fruit Farmer

Fruit Farmer asks you to stand in a wide open space like a field, park or beach and activate your phone’s in-built GPS or GPS dongle. When you look at your phones’ screen, you will see fruit dotted around the area and it’s your job to physically run around, collecting them while dodging wasps and other enemies.

I didn’t know what to think about this at first other than, there is no way folk will run around in a field like that. They’ll be too embarrassed if people see them, plus, Scotland doesn’t exactly have the most consistent weather for this kind of game.

But then I dug a little deeper and checked out some proposed titles. For starters, it’s open source so anyone can develop a game for it, which is a wise move in today’s market, something which fans of the massively expanding Wii freeware scene will perhaps testify to.

Hands up how many people have taken part in a scavenger hunt when they were wee? Imagine the same concept on Locomatrix. It’s being touted as a mulitplayer game, so everyone gather together in one spot then the game uses preloaded missions for real areas such as the Glasgow Green, Central Park or the Brighton Seafront for example. Using this data, ‘treasures’ will be hidden around the area on your phones screen with a hot/cold meter telling participants how close they are to the prize.

Pretty neat and with so many kids having mobiles now this could be a great summer activity. There is even talk about doing this kind of multiplayer game across the span of a whole city. Grand Theft Auto GPS might be a bit out of the question, but the backbone of the idea is the same. Have a huge sprawling game with folk running around a city trying to reach a target location while dodging enemies on your phone. Or how about Pac-Man in an actual hedge maze?

All of a sudden I didn’t think it was such a daft idea. The concept may have some glaring flaws at points but it is interesting to see how Locomatrix or freeware devs might run with the technology in future. Anyone else got good ideas as to how they might use this?






13 responses to “Enter the Locomatrix”

  1. Michael avatar

    Run around in a field while carrying a phone? What the hell?! Anneka Rice, eat yer heart out!

    That sounds mental though. And I don’t mean the good kind of mental. Well, maybe. I mean, running around in fields is really fun…

    I suppose it could be used as part of things like Hide and Seek – http://www.hideandseekfest.co.uk/

  2. Dave avatar

    Challenge Anneka, that was great when I was younger for all the wrong reasons :/

    Hide and Seek fest is the same idea, I think the whole field thing is a bit daft, but it’s early days, who knows how it will work in years to come 🙂

  3. John avatar

    Do we really want another reason for phoneaholics to walk around with their noes buried in their phone screens blithely ignoring anyone else who might be wanting to, oh I don’t know, walk along the street?! The serial texting is bad enough!
    Now… having said that if you combine this new bit of (admittedly pretty cool tech) with the bizarre pastime of geo-caching then there’s a whole world of geekery which could be accessed.

  4. Tony avatar

    Just think, if they linked up GPS to Google Streetview you could walk down a street and have your phone show you the view as if you were walking down that very same street. How great would that be?

  5. Dave avatar

    True enough, zombie phoneaholics are annoying, but the games out just now are intended for wider areas. But I agree, it will be very interesting to see where the technology goes in future.

  6. Dave avatar

    Tony, that would be really helpful, still a bit ‘unsure’ about the whole concept though from a privacy point of view :/


  7. Michael avatar

    That google street thing would probably be a bit trippy… “Hey, I can see where I am walking – it’s like I’m looking at myself looking at myself looking at my phone!” I have no idea if that is even right but you get the idea. Right?

  8. Dave avatar

    Nah I get what you mean, like in Portal when you jump through the ground the back out through the ceiling repeatedly, almost like a picture in picture.

    What a way to mess with the mind :/

  9. Michael avatar

    Yeah, exactly and I tell ya that bit of the game – to get the achievement for falling 30,000 feet – made me nauseous… So no ta to the google idea!

  10. Aerithscar avatar

    This is a fairly mad idea, any idea which phone’s it will be avaliable on? I might have to purchase this one, im allways up for something different.

  11. Scott Cameron avatar
    Scott Cameron

    I know that it’s not quite the same, but I enjoyed the way Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops was able to generate a free soldier for recruitment based on what wireless networks it could detect. 😀 It really encouraged me to turn my wireless on while I’m out and about.

  12. Dave avatar

    Hi Aerithscar, no idea about the formats although what i’ve read so far seems to suggest they’re aiming to make it for any phone with GPS functionality.

    Also, Hi Scott, I haven’t played Portable Ops due to a lack of PSP but that sounds neat. It’s one of these awesome little features on sony consoles that gets mostly ignored by so many gamers.

  13. Jesse Serrin avatar

    Thanks for this article, very thought-provoking. I did a lot of research before I bought a system for my geocaching. It is such a relaxing hobby. What receiver do you use? Click here if you’d like to check out my site. Thanks again for a very informative site!

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