Every good heist movie has a scene where somebody needs to delicately dodge their way through a series of laser beams in order to sneak through a security system and steal the crown jewels. But in real life, it can be a tad disappointing to realize how few opportunities there are to expertly dance through laser beams.
Finally, we have a solution: the Laser Equipped Annihilation Protocol (L.E.A.P. for short). Created by Toronto-based artists Kyle Duffield and Daniele Hopkins, this live-action game installation challenges players to reach the back of the room in a set amount of time without coming into contact with an alternating pattern of lasers mounted every few feet.
If the player makes it through on time and without tripping a laser, they must then enter a code on a wall-mounted keypad to deactivate the system and win the game. Players who fail to enter the code on time are disintegrated (just kidding).
To control L.E.A.P.’s array of lasers Duffield and Hopkins use an Arduino Mega 2560 interfaced with a computer running a software script created in Max. Laser patterns are transmitted as a looping series of MIDI music notes. The piano roll editor in Max is used to create the patterns, which then get saved as text files.
During an interview on the Built to Play podcast, the two creators revealed that the initial motivation behind the project had nothing to do with living out an action movie fantasy or creating security systems. The goal with L.E.A.P. was to create a statement on surveillance — which explains the game’s sinister voice which increasingly taunts players as the clock runs out.
This addition of the omnipotent voice also does a lot to set the scary tone of the piece. “A lot comes through with the sound design,” says Duffield during the interview, “People often overlook how dramatic sound is — you feel the vibrations of the room rumbling, you hear the voice resonating, you walk and it taunts you.”
Make: wrote about a project similar to L.E.A.P., the Laser Maze, from the 2014 Milwaukee Maker Faire which used a combination of lasers, Arduino, and a scoreboard to rank your skill at navigating through the maze. The L.E.A.P. branches off both with its sound design, and the deliberate use of timed gates or patterns for the laser arrays. By using alternating patterns, the creators intended to make the game more accessible to players of all shapes, sizes, and capabilities. It makes L.E.A.P. less a game of gymnastics, and more about timing and pattern prediction.
Whichever way you prefer your laser challenges, the good news is that it’s a relatively short jump from blinking your first Arduino LED to interfacing low-power lasers, keypads, and light sensors. Have an even better idea for a live-action laser challenge? Let us hear it in the comments.
Source: Cycling ’74