UK game room company Liberty Games has figured out a novel way for anyone to play one of its stand-alone games: it’s hooked up a crane machine to the internet for anyone to control, calling it Santa Claws. As a bonus, any toys caught translate into real dollars (or pounds, rather) that will be donated to St Mungo’s, a charity that provides support to the homeless.
To get it running, Liberty Games took a Sierra crane machine and attached a camera to the front. This allowed the company to livestream the crane, but then they needed people to be able to control it through a web browser. For this, they used PiFace and PiRack to code an API for the crane that allows its functions to be controlled remotely, and also send feedback when a game is over or a prize is scored. The web server was then linked up so buttons on the webpage can control the crane. The result is a webpage with a live feed of the crane machine, and four controls to try and nab a toy in 40 seconds: up, left, right, and grab.
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