The Photonic Games are a yearly event which, since 2008, invited nearly 300 students from various high schools in Quebec City to come and participate in a friendly competition at l'Université Laval (http://www.repol.copl.ulaval.ca/jeux/)
. This competition, in the form of an Olympiad, allows students to familiarize themselves with several scientific concepts related to optics and photonics. The purpose of this activity is to generate an interest toward sciences and especially toward this fascinating branch of physics.
Beam tracking turned into a video game
One of the most popular challenges of this event is the Gentec-EO Challenge (a.k.a. Galaxies Bickering). This activity consists of using a laser pointer and a laser beam profiling camera
to destroy enemy ships! For this, a LabView program communicates with the BEAMAGE-4M
instrument in order to know the centroid of the laser beam on the sensor. The position of the laser is displayed on the game screen and allows the participant to destroy enemy targets. Thanks to the ready-to-use .vi files made available to us by Gentec-EO, communication between the instrument and our program could be established easily and without any technical problems!
Photos by Mireille Quémener, Jeux Photoniques
Yes, laser beam profilers even have applications in the field of video games! 😉
The Photonics Games organizers graciously accepted to share their LabView program. So if you own a BEAMAGE camera and a LabView licence, download this file and you can try the challenge yourself!