Your chance to play Pong on the side of a huge building

Frank Lee is a man with a dream. The co-founder and co-director of the Game Design Program at Drexel University has been staring longingly at the Cira Centre in Philadelphia, a massive building with a matrix of LED lights on the exterior. He imagined turning it into one of the world's biggest video games. Later this month, that bold dream will come true.

Lee's 4-year-long quest will culminate on April 19 and April 24 when he hands the controls of a giant Pong game over to Philly residents. Due to time constraints, fewer than 100 lucky gamers will get a chance to play. Certain student groups are already in line to participate, but other players will be selected via lottery.… Read more

The 404 1,242: Where we light up the Pong (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- This is your one chance to play Pong on the side of a Philadelphia skyscraper.

- Arrested Development returns May 26 with all 15 new episodes on Netflix at once.

- Netflix also gets old cartoon shows from Adult Swim; still no Batman: The Animated Series though.… Read more

Bazooka shoots ping-pong balls at Mach speed

The magic of physics can turn the mundane into something marvelous. Mark French, a mechanical engineering professor at Purdue University, designed a supersonic air-powered ping-pong ball cannon that shoots the lightweight object at speeds so fast I would consider the device a lethal weapon of science.

A ping-pong ball reportedly blasts out of the special cannon at speeds equivalent to Mach 1.23 -- nearly as fast as an F-16 fighter jet. As evidenced in the video below, the high-speed ball can put a clean hole through a plywood paddle, a VHS tape, and other objects. The amount of energy delivered by the Mach-speed ping-pong ball equals the force of a baseball thrown at 125 mph or a brick falling from several stories up.… Read more

65,000 ping-pong balls turn pool party into cool party

Pools aren't just for swimming, you know. Brooklyn art studio Red Paper Heart made some pretty nifty art with a swimming hole and 65,000 ping-pong balls. Before you dismiss that as an exercise in lunacy, take a look at a clever interactive pool party experience for yourself in the video below.

Red Paper Heart created the mesmerizing show in conjunction with city guide Web site UrbanDaddy, all for a tequila promotional event in Hamptons, N.Y.. The art studio programmed some software (using C++) to control the projector-driven light show that reacts to music. To enhance the visuals, the group enlisted a team of synchronized swimmers and some tuxedo-clad scuba divers to class up the joint.… Read more

Atari debuts iOS Pong app honoring game's 40th birthday

Here's something to make early video game enthusiasts feel old -- Atari's Pong is celebrating its 40th birthday today.

It was 1972 that Atari's first consumer product was created sending people into a playing frenzy. Rumor has it that lines of gamers vying to try out Pong at the arcade sometimes went at least 60 people deep. It wasn't until 1975 that the home version of the game was released.

Now, to honor the trend-setting game, Atari has launched a free iOS Pong app today called Pong World, which is available for iPhones and iPads.

"… Read more

The next new craze: Brain Pong?

The power of the average Cornell brain is slightly greater than the power of the average brain.

Not every Cornell brain is useful, though. Some might offer those of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Andy Bernard of "The Office" as among the more dispensable examples. Still, you know that Cornell minds often offer a taste of the next world, rather than this.

So play along with me for a moment as we observe together two Cornell students playing Brain Pong.

This is exactly what it sounds like: the famous and much-underrated game Pong powered by the force of … Read more

China's ping-pong robots got game

Pong, you've come a long way, baby.

Students at China's Zhejiang University have been demonstrating a pair of humanoid robots that can play a pretty mean game of table tennis, by machine standards.

Wu and Kong stand 5.2 feet tall and weigh 120 pounds. They have camera eyes that feed real-time images of the ball to their processors at a rate of 120 frames per second.

Incorporating a high-speed industrial-automation Ethernet technology, the droids take some 50 to 100 milliseconds to respond to the ball's speed and trajectory, knocking it back to the other side of the table.

Their margin of error is less than an inch, according to Xiong Rong, head designer at the university's robot lab. … Read more

A cell phone case for reducing cell phone radiation

Outside of the battle between iPhone fans and Android advocates, few debates in the cell phone world are more divisive than that over whether the radio frequency (RF) energy emitted by cell phones is harmful. Though the industry and some members of the scientific community insist that there is no danger, other researchers and a growing number of public officials believe that there is cause for concern. No consensus exists, and as CNET has reported, any agreement or firm evidence may not come for a long time, if it does at all.

In the meantime, some CNET readers will feel more comfortable erring on the side of caution. If you're concerned, you can use a headset, text instead of talk, and limit calls when your carrier signal is low (more RF energy is emitted when a phone is working harder to reach a tower). Yet, since that advice isn't always practical, Pong Research has another solution, with a case that is designed to refocus RF energy, or radiation, away from your head while not reducing signal strength. So in other words, you can use your phone just as you normally would.

If you think that sounds like pseudoscience, I don't blame you. Honestly, I've never taken seriously the cheap radiation "shields" that you can find online. Usually nothing more than tiny stickers, I didn't believe that they did anything, except spread a false peace of mind. Few of the products backed up their claims with solid proof, and, even worse, some can actually interfere with your cell phone's signal. That's why I was pretty skeptical when I first heard of the Pong case. But as it turns out, the company has done its homework. … Read more

An ingenious way to control a billboard with your iPhone

Though advertising is largely dead, sometimes people come up with wonderfully inventive things that make you stand and smile. Often, those people are in Sweden.

Here is just one wonderful example. It is for McDonald's. The bright minds behind this thought it would be, as the narrator of the video says, "extra fun" to have people stand around in a nice square, whip out their iPhones and play digital Pong on a large billboard.

If you managed to last 30 seconds without being defeated, you would get a coupon for something delicious at Ronald's house.

Particularly … Read more

Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell on the future of software (Q&A)

Whether you know him by name, you almost certainly have firsthand experience with some of Nolan Bushnell's work. He's known by many as the father of video games, since he created Pong and co-founded Atari. And he may have played a role in one of your birthdays because he started the Chuck E. Cheese restaurant chain.

Without question, Bushnell left an indelible mark on the 1970s and 1980s.

But in later years he wasn't finished as an entrepreneur, though his more recent accomplishments haven't risen to the level of his earlier career. In 2005, he launched … Read more