Clever Tech Inspires Remote Play for MEA Team
Creative Agency Hotwires Pinball Machines to Keep Offices Connected During Covid
Creative agency MEA recently modified a Stern Star Trek Pinball machine located in their US office to enable teams to play together remotely, via a website. Employees can login to the Robotic Arcade website and control the flippers on a physical pinball machine thousands of miles away, and video stream live via high-definition cameras.
“It’s Zoom for pinball,” says Sacha Penny, Chief Marketing Officer at MEA. “We’re always looking for creative ways to stay connected, and the pinball project was one of our favorites.”
- Star Trek pinball machine controlled by website.
- Employees stay connected with up to 4 player games.
- Custom coded by our developers in New Zealand.
Initially the biggest concern was the latency between the offices. The connection between the two New Zealand offices has always been fast, but the Connecticut connection is slower due to the physical distance. Using a WebSocket enables full duplex communications; meaning the machines can communicate with each other simultaneously.
The system uses commercial off the shelf hardware and custom programs coded with the bit-based love MEA brings to every one of its projects. The website and pinball machine controller software are the core components. A Google Nest router port forwards the web socket connection to a Raspberry Pi 4. The unit itself uses a Nginx reverse proxy web server on the Pi forward to Node server. PM2 keeps everything running smoothly.
The next version of the project includes blockchain based arcade tokens and NFT prizes for high scores. “We’re looking to commercialize the project and it’s a fun excuse to purchase additional arcade machines for the office.”
With web development offices in both Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand as well as in the United States, MEA had the right profile to interconnect. “And no one has beaten my high score,” adds Penny.
MEA is an award-winning full service digital agency and app developer. We connect customers and brands using digital innovation and integrated marketing. The MEA team is passionate about crafting exceptional user experiences with a strategic and integrated approach to advertising, marketing, design & development. MEA has released hundreds of native mobile app and website projects with millions of users including with T-Mobile, Kodak, Levi’s, Rip Curl, MTV Press and Samsung. MEA owns Autopilot Print, a better way for retailers and fulfillers to sell photo products.