XR Bowling

XR Bowling

The immersive experience provided by the some screen based games are wonderfully crafted but lack the tactile feel of the physical games. My team wanted to challenge that paradigm and wanted to provide a gateway between physical and digital worlds without costing the immersive experience of playing games.

A game using Mixed Reality (XR), a fusion of real and virtual worlds was designed. Its a bowling game which can be triggered using a tablet but the effect of pins falling and the sound comes from the physical world, making the game quite challenging and enagaging.


The Context 

We often remember playing video games growing up. The compelling interactions on the screen kept us glued and provided a gateway to an alternate world. The digital devices with larger screens pushed the paradigm even further by placing our interactions on the screens. It is common to find people engrossed on their devices and experience the less of “the real world”. My team wanted to challenge the conventional physical to digital and digital to digital interactions.

Augmented Reality (AR), also known as Mixed Reality (XR), is a ripe field for designers, especially as more and more tools become readily available. Though XR is still in its infancy, XR designers continuously explore and push the boundaries of this technology with projects ranging from psychological healing to gaming to planning new urban spaces.

The Concept

Can the conventional interaction paradigm be challenged?

XR Bowling is an indoor game that explores the relationship between digital and physical interactions in Mixed Reality. XR Bowling enables people to have an alternate experience of playing bowling which is initiated digitally to have a physical output and vice versa.

The Process

The project consists of a bowling game that exists both digitally and physically. The digital bowling game exists in Unity3D. On the physical side, four bowling pins sit atop solenoids, all controlled by a Raspberry Pi. Both parts connect to each other using a Spacebrew server.

Onscreen, the user flicks the digital ball towards digital bowling pins. If the ball makes contact, a signal is sent to Spacebrew, which is then read by the Raspberry Pi. The solenoids actuate, knocking out the physical pins. Other objects can be added to the game to obstruct the digital pins. This element of surprise creates a two-way relationship between the realms – the digital affects the physical, but physical elements can also affect digital elements.


Significant learning during the project was the importance of creating a seamless transition between the physical and the digital realms, to maintain the perception of continuity. Such micro-interactions are indispensable for users to interact naturally with this new mixed reality.


Team: Sareena Avadhany and Shalin Shah
Instructors: James Tichenor and Joshua Walton
Duration: 2 weeks

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