Chihayafuru Lasertag

Over on Instructables there’s a description of how to make your own mechanical Karuta practice opponent using lasers. How cool is that?

The idea is, you have cards marked with both machine readable code and human readable characters. The machine uses a webcam to pattern-match a line of text to a specific card. The human uses brains to pattern match the spoken (via a text2speech tool) text with a specific card. The human points to the card with their hand. The machine points to the card with a laser. If the human is faster than the machine, they can flip the card out of the way. If the human is slower than the machine, they get a laser burn on the back of their hand. This is called reinforcement learning. Based on the embedded vid, the machine is really fast. While the machine doesn’t act like a real human, it does give you the advantage of actually pointing to the card (so you know where it is if you couldn’t find it), or not moving at all (on one of the 50 dead cards).

The Instructable itself leaves a little bit to be desired. The key to the whole process is a flow-chart that is stuck in the number two position. The actual building of the tower and the assembling of the webcam and laser are not mentioned. I guess if you are an Arduino hacker who feels comfortable with circuit boards already this is not much of a problem. If you are an Ikea-challenged fumbler like me (I give a whole new meaning to the term “hacker”), it’s a little problematic.

As an alternative, I’d like to see someone come up with a Dance-Dance style practice board. You’d have a board, with pressure sensors in a 6 x 9 grid. When the machine reads a line, it starts a timer. When you hit the card, the timer stops, and you get to see how fast you were. You get to use real cards, not ones that are half QRC code, and you can collect statistics on how well you are doing, and what cards need more work. Plus, it’s kinder on the hands.

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