My greatest achievement in my career so far is having some of my work in a theme park.
While working at Beaudry Interactive, I helped design and build all of the “Interactive Play” elements found throughout Sesame Street Land in SeaWorld Orlando. The official descriptions of all of these interactives can be found here. Of those, I researched and developed the vast majority of Bike Shop Tricycle Challenge, did initial designs for Laundromat, and helped with the physical tech of Yip Yip’s Mail Slot, Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck Challenge (pictured above), and Oscar’s Trash Can.
I cannot provide pictures or video from the development processes, but needless to say all the elements required a significant amount of innovation. Because the Bike Shop Tricycle Challenge is the one that I spent the most time on developing, I will dive into that interactive in more detail.
First, here is a video of the final product in action at the park:
As you can tell, the overall interactive is incredibly simple–players are only required to move back and forth within the designated area to control an 8-bit character on the screen. However, a lot went into this interactive to make it work as seamless as it does.
Putting aside the game for a second, the first and most important question we had as a company was “How can we reliably detect players being within certain spaces?” This question was the one I was tasked in solving, at first being handed a relatively inexpensive Arduino-compatible thermal camera and told to have at it.
I spent a few weeks learning the API and fine-tuning my code to have the device reliably detect people within a portion of our workshop. It was a relatively obscure piece of technology and so many discoveries were made through simple trial and error. Everything appeared to be great, and we had figured this out relatively early on. Hooray!
The problem that arose however, as you can tell from the video, was that the interactive was outside. Once we tested outside with the thermal camera, the area all around the player was being read as too hot to detect the player reliably. And so we went back to square one. After a brief stint into some IR cameras and CV color-detection algorithms (both of which were too sensitive to be used), we decided to go forward with a depth camera, specifically the ZED.
I was handed one and told to integrate it into Unity (as it wasn’t a mere Arduino peripheral anymore). And, with the help of a few of my coworkers, we got it fully integrated and working in the game! Because depth sensors aren’t really affected by heat (or shadows) it ended up solving all the remaining problems and is the camera currently operating in the park to this day.
To circle back to the game, it was just a simple Unity game where you move a kid on a tricycle left or right to collect the numbers one to ten. This I also developed the vast majority of, with another coworkers coming in to clean it up a bit graphically and implement some final features.
Overall, I believe about 80% of the final Bike Shop Tricycle Challenge installed in the park is my work, and I am immensely proud of that!