Exertion Interfaces

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Airhockey over a Distance

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Duncan Stevenson playing airhockeyVideoconferencing is designed for coworkers who have met in person and want to work together remotely. It falls short, however, in introducing people, and does not account for the complex interaction patterns humans engage in when they meet for the first time. Airhockey Over a Distance aims to introduce people over a distance by utilizing the social power of a quick, casual game that can be played in the social spaces like canteens of distributed enterprises.

Airhockey Over a Distance is played like a conventional airhockey game. However, the table is split in half and the two ends are connected via a network. The players can see and hear each other at all times. They shoot a real puck back and forth, trying to score a goal. Once the puck passes the midway-line, its location is detected, and a corresponding physical puck is shot out at the other table.

Airhockey Over a Distance consists of two physically separate halves of an airhockey table. The player is recorded by a camera and the video is displayed on the screen of the other player, creating the illusion of playing together on one table.


We believe the physicality of the game combined with its fast pace makes a compelling experience that facilitates an increased connectedness between the remote players. The physical and powerful action of hitting a real puck, its transformation into the virtual space and its physical reappearance on the remote end contribute towards the perception of a mutual space in which the players interact. We believe this physical interaction is better than a virtual one in introducing remote staff members who would otherwise never meet and thus increases the likelihood of them collaborating on distributed projects in the future.

Puck cannons

A 'real' puck comes out at the other end

Close-up of the puck cannons

Close-up of the rotating puck cannons

Having fun with Airhockey Over a Distance

Having fun with Airhockey Over a Distance


Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., & Gibbs, M. R. (2008). The Design of Networked Exertion Games. Journal of Virtual Reality and Broadcasting, 5, 13.

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Vetere, F., Gibbs, M. (2007) Design Experiences with Networked Exertion Games. PerGames ’07-Pervasive Gaming Applications (acceptance rate 50%)

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Cole, L., O'Brien, S. & Walmink, W. (2006) Airhockey over a Distance: a Networked Physical Game to Support Social Interactions. Proceedings of the 2006 ACM SIGCHI international conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology. Hollywood, California, ACM. (acceptance rate 12%, tier 1)

Mueller, F., Cole, L., O’Brien, S., Walmink, W. (2006) Airhockey over a Distance – the video, CSCW ’06- Computer Supported Cooperative Work ACM (tier 1)

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Cole, L., O’Brien, S., Walmink, W. (2006) Airhockey over a Distance. CHI '06, ACM 2006, 1133-1138 (tier 1)

Acrobat pdf Mueller, F., Cole, L. C., O’Brien, S. & Walmink, W. (2006) Airhockey Over a Distance–Connecting People Through Physical Casual Game Play. PerGames '06. Dublin, Ireland.



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In the News

Nice video of Airhockey Over a Distance at CeBIT Australia on the official CeBIT Australia Blog

Article in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Melbourne)

Article on Airhockey Over a Distance at CeBIT Australia in the Sydney Morning Herald

Image of Airhockey Over a Distance at CeBIT Australia on cnet.com

PCauthority reported on CeBIT Australia and mentions Airhockey Over a Distance

Section on Airhockey Over a Distance in the CeBIT Newsletter

Also an interview about Airhockey Over a Distance on 3AW Radio, Melbourne, Australia and featured in The Australian newspaper.


Airhockey over a Distance was developed in the Connecting People group at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The original webpage is at http://www.ict.csiro.au/page.php?did=222.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 00:43