Catchbob (2007)


CatchBob! is an experimental platform in the form of a mobile game for running psychological experiments. It is designed to elicit collaborative behavior of people working together on a mobile activity. It was Nicolas Nova’s PhD research project that is now completed.

Running on a mobile device (iPAQ, TabletPc), it’s a collaborative hunt in which groups of three persons have to find and circle a virtual object on our campus.


The platform

We set up a mobile game in which groups of 3 team-mates have to solve a joint task. The aim of the game for the participants is to find a virtual object on our campus and surround it with a triangle. They are provided with a location-based tool running on an iPAQ or a Tablet PC. This tool allows each person to see the location of his or her partners with a colored dot on the campus map. Figure 1 shows a screenshot of the location awareness tool. Another meaningful piece of information given by this tool is whether the user is close or far from the object: a proximity sensor. In addition, the tool also enables simple communication: if a participant points on a dot (that represents a person) with his/her stylus, (s)he can draw a vector that correspond to a direction proposition for his/her partner: “go to this direction”. Another communication feature is the possibility to write messages and broadcast them to the partners.
As depicted on this architecture , the WiFi enabled clients (iPAQ or Table PC) determine their location entirely privately without constant interaction with a central service. They use the data provided by IEEE 802.11 network auditor such as CraftDeamon and PlaceLab. Broadcast of position, command and stroke messages is done over SOAP to a centralized server.