Tangible Optical Chess


Optical Chess is a strategic board game created using the theoretical idea of lasers and mirrors, as well as many of the concepts and terminology from the more standard game of Chess.

The game’s initial objectives were to be easy to learn, to be difficult to master, to be strictly strategic with no element of randomness, and to lend itself to emergent strategies that appear after the application of a few very simple rules, rather than have rules that are intended to create certain strategies.

In the future, users could perform optical experiments on this interactive tabletop display without setting complicated environments and with minimal risk of eye damage from laser beams.


David’s game design proposal + Andy’s game design proposal = Optical Chess on an interactive tabletop display

game rules

The objective is to hit your opponent’s King with your laser with combination of at least one mirror. This can be accomplished by placing a mirror, removing a mirror, rotating a mirror, moving a mirror or moving your laser.


software prototype

The first software prototype of Optical Chess on Windows platform and the result of the first game. Manual for this version.

tangible prototype

This tangible version is implemented on Tangible Tracking Table. It uses fiducial markers in reacTIVision. Manual for this version.



videos: video1, video2


  • David Joyner, Chih-Sung (Andy) Wu, and Ellen Yi-Luen Do. 2009. Tangible optical chess: a laser strategy game on an interactive tabletop. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC ’09). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 278-279.
  • Wu, A., Joyner, D. and Do, E. Y., Move, Beam, and Check! Imagineering Tangible Optical Chess on An Interactive Tabletop Display, ACM Computers in Entertainment, 2010. (ACE 2010 Best paper award)


David Joyner – is a first-year HCI (Computing specialization) Masters student. He received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Georgia Tech, with People and Media as his threads.

Andy Wu – is pursuing his Ph.D. degree in the Digital Media program. He has multidisciplinary background including Physics, Electrical/Optical Engineering, Software Development and Human Computer Interaction. His research interests cover Human Computer Interaction, Tangible Media and Information Visualization.

Dr. Ellen Yi-Luen Do – is an Associate Professor in College of Architecture & College of Computing. She advises and supports this research, which is one of the projects of her COA 8843 Design Games class in fall, 2008.

Dr. Ali Mazalek – is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Media program at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Literature, Communication and Culture. She is a member of the Graphics, Visualization and Usability Center and director of the Synaesthetic Media Lab, which provides the equipments and technologies on building ptototypes in this project.

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