I’m excited to share a side project I’ve been working on lately which shows how gamification can be applied to actions and activities performed in real life.
I’ve been fascinated by the idea of applying gamification concepts to every day activities for a while but I really didn’t know where to start. The biggest hurdle has been (and still is) finding and configuring sensors that can interpret and transmit actions a person is performing. Then I discovered the eletronics communities for Arduino and Netduino.
For this project I chose to use the Netduino Plus. Why? Well, primarily because this amazing piece of electronics is able to run the .Net Microframework! That means I can write and debug applications using C# and Visual Studio. The Netduino Plus also comes with built in Ethernet which I use to communicate with IActionable’s API. Working with the Netduino is surprisingly easy and was no more complicated than writing a Hello World for a Console Application.
The RFID Card Reader is made by Parallax and I found it at my local Radio Shack. Note, I rediscovered just how dangerous that store is when you’re just browsing for “cool stuff”. Hopefully I will be able to find a way to incorporate the other neat things I picked up in my next projects.
Connecting the reader to the Netduino board was straight forward since it already works with serial and only needed 5 volts. Just 4 wires and the reader lit up and was ready to transmit data.
Code & Game Mechanics
Once the devices were connected I wrote a simple application which detected the presence of an RFID card and read the unique ID associated with it. The application was also configured to send this action as an event to the IActionable API. I use Visual Studio 2010 and couldn’t believe at first how simple it was to deploy my code. You hit F5 and that’s it. Seriously. A big thanks goes out to the guys on the Netduino forums which made learning how to interface with the on-board ethernet and rfid serial data a snap!
So what could you do with this? The first applications that came to mind were for conferences and trade shows. As web enabled devices become more common I imagine we’ll see a lot more gamification concepts integrated with the conference experience. The idea could encourage people to visit more or all booths on the trade show floor. It could also show who has attended the most sessions or classes and reward them for taking a specific series of courses.
As you walk around the conference with your iPad or smart phone you’ll know exactly how many points you have and where you rank on a leaderboard. Of course, this is only one simple part of what the entire gamification experience should be.
As more cheaper, smaller and internet connected devices become available I can see this moving into our every day life at home, work and school. I see gamification evolving along side a new phase of analytics. With more data comes the ability to make better decisions and encourage specific behaviors.
Check out a quick video demonstrating the concept in action!