Table Tennis & Totems: A Mobile Marketing Platform for Pong & Poles

Written by Michael Whittington

There are two stories that have blown up and dominated mobile marketing news this week. Normally I stray from the big topics and report on them later after they have developed more, but these stories are not only huge, they're incredibly interesting. The first is a technological masterpiece while the second is the touching story of a community's cooperation and coordination. The best part: they each take advantage of a different mobile marketing platform.

While it wasn't the first video game (that title can arguably go to Steve Russell's Spacewar!), Pong is unquestionably the program that brought the concept of video gaming to the masses. While remakes of the game have carried it far from its monochrome days where it was played with a paddle controller, for its Fortieth anniversary this year, Dutch developer Sander Veerhof has made the simple concept cross a new boundary.

Meet Global Pong. It utilizes augmented reality technology, which is also a fledgling mobile marketing platform. The game connects players worldwide using a mobile marketing software application called Layar. When a player is online, their information will appear on the phone's screen as its camera displays the user's environment behind it in real time. The user simply needs to select another player and shoot a ball at him. Alternately, he or she may find themselves deflecting a ball shot by another player. QR Code Press has noted that Veerhof's Global Pong is significantly slower than the original game. However, they do feel it successfully captures the nostalgia while taking advantage of today's always-connected technology.

Global Pong is certainly the first and only table tennis game for your smartphone that uses augmented reality, but those experimenting with AR technology are no strangers to the iconic Pong concept. These are precisely the two elements Xing Xu captured when creating his QR Code Ping Pong Game. By generating a QR code and holding it in front of an AR-enabled device's camera, he was able to make the paper code function as a controller for his paddle and he could raise and lower it to counter the bouncing ball on screen. This seems to have amounted to little more than a pet project, but it is interesting to see a classic title being controlled with motion. You can see it in action in the video below. As you watch, consider the following: If mobile marketing software is still in its Pong stage, imagine where it will be in forty years.

Every kid loves totem poles. When I was in fourth grade we had a unit on the Native Americans right around Thanksgiving time. For my project my father and I (well, mostly my father) carved our own miniature totem pole out of a piece of wood. We painted it too.

I enjoyed these fond memories while reading a recent mobile marketing news article from the Edinburg Evening News. This project certainly expands beyond the father-son bonding I experienced and brought an entire community together. The Scottish community of Wester Hailes wanted to share their history with each other, and with the world. In order to do so, they combined their efforts and gained the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which contributed 80,000 Pounds to the project, and began construction on a fifteen foot totem pole. The totem pole's creation had a team of five to ten carvers led by a professional artist. It was designed, in a sense, by children as well as representatives at WHALE Arts. This led it to be decorated with human-figure shapes. However, it's not these depictions that interest me. No, instead I'm interested in their decision of generating a QR code for the pole.

Five QR codes, each connecting device holders to memories of their community elders will be fitted on the totem pole. This is an excellent reason for generating a QR code. Not only is it educational but it is helping to preserve culture and legacy. Dr. Chris Speed from the Edinburg College of Art hopes that be researching and learning about generations past when the community was much tighter and much closer, it may restore some of the social values of yesteryear. Though perhaps the process of building it already did some of that work.

You can see photos of the totem pole throughout the stages of its construction here. Be forewarned, you will need to do some horizontal scrolling.

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