I’m Happy to Burst Your Bubble: Multiplayer Audience Interaction via Mobile Web

Computers & Mobile Fun & Games
I’m Happy to Burst Your Bubble: Multiplayer Audience Interaction via Mobile Web


The name of the game is “Balloon Pop!”


Onstage, a laptop interfaces with an Arduino Leonardo to control a set of four 12V solenoid valves via a custom switching board. Each valve, in turn, is connected between one of four colored balloons and a manifold, a pressure gauge, and a compressor. There’s also a wired breakout controller with four big color-matched buttons so creator Michael Newman can demonstrate the pneumatics while he talks. (If you were at Maker Faire Bay Area last year, you may recall Newman’s earlier project Video Sans Video Game, a mechanical paper-based cave navigator arcade game that’s quite literally “side-scrolling.”)



Offstage, audience members use their mobile devices to interact with the game’s web interface, which features four colored buttons they click to control how air is delivered to the various balloons. Newman describes the rules of the game thusly:

  • On stage: Four balloons (red, yellow, green, blue)
  • On the smartphone: Four buttons (red, yellow, green, blue)
  • Once the game started, the buttons became active
  • When players pressed any button it registered one “click” for that corresponding colored balloon
  • Once the button was pressed, it button became inactive for that player
  • When another player pressed the same button, another “click” was registered, and the button was unlocked for all other players
  • For every ten “clicks” a button received, the corresponding balloon would receive a one second burst of air
  • When a balloon received a burst of air, all the other balloon “clicks” were reset to zero creating a race scenario – Rewarding fast collaboration and penalizing others
  • On average, a balloon took ten bursts of air to fully inflate and pop, requiring 100 button “clicks”
  • The locking button logic required at least two players to repeatedly press the same button to lock and unlock button and inflate the balloon
  • The first balloon to POP wins!

More pictures and details are available at Newman’s Pomp Productions company website.

If you’re going to be in northern California the weekend of the 17th, don’t miss the chance to play “Balloon Pop!” (and see lots more amazing stuff) at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014.


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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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