Fly with your arms

As a young child I remember playing superhero, running around with my arms extended, or flying like a plane with my arms to the side (well maybe not). Interaction designers can learn alot from child's play, so its interesting to see a few projects using the arms extended technique.


The appropriately titled I Am More Than My Thumb is the thesis project of Kellee Santiago (founder of thatgamecompany), is a body-based interface experiment seeking to engage the entire body, using the game Cloud. For anyone not aware of the Cloud game, it was developed by university students in the Interactive Media Division at USC, and you should really have a play.

This project allows you to control the character using your body. Tilt your arms to turn and raise them to go faster or lower to slow down. It uses the PhaseSpace motion capture set-up, essentially cameras tracking LEDs on the wearers body. It's great that the player in the photos is wearing a pijama outfit (like the boy in the game) and I think this system would work best in the free flight mode (which is lots of fun). In Cloud though there are many actions, such as pulling the clouds around or absorbing/releasing them, which is hard to build into a motion capture. This game would work perfectly on Wii though, so get in touch Nintendo!

Watch this video then read the thesis pdf.


This reminded me of a project I heard of in 2003 called Fly (shown above). Fly was created by Simon Oliver, with design by Duncan Bone, sound by Owen Lloyd and support from Mickey Stretton (now Design Director at AllofUs) (created whilst all at Randommedia).

Using the same control method, the player holds two coloured balls, which are tracked by the camera. The position of the balls in hand control the rotation and flying height of the player, whilst the distance between the two alter the players speed. Simon goes on to explain:

"The game environment was laid out to avoid disorientation and to provide constant challenges and fun things to fly around. There were no areas where there was nothing to fly over, around, or through. In order to add challenges, and encourage repeat plays, tests of accuracy were placed around the environment in the form of 8 collectibles. Each collectible "coloured in" section of the environment, and raised the accompanying music to a crescendo. The game could be completed if all 8 were collected. A time limit also raised the importance of flying at speed."

Video & concept art | Higher res video.

Also worth a mention is Antigrav for the Playstation 2 (shown below), created by Cybersonica keynote Harmonix Music. Antigrav used the Eyetoy in a futuristic hover board game, allowing the player to move their body controlling the border, reaching out there hands to grab powerups.

Videos here.