Our game idea came out of a physics demo called the Bernoulli Blower, commonly shown at science fairs and museums (seen in the video to the right). Using a stream of fast-moving air and a ping-pong ball (or other smooth ball), you can levitate the ball in the air.
This effect is due to the fact that fast-moving air exerts a lower pressure than slow-moving air. As a result, the higher pressure air outside of the airstream acts as a wall that keeps the ball inside the stream. Bernoulli Blower exhibits use this effect to keep ping-pong balls in the airstream even when they seem like they should fall out!
We decided that we could gamify the Bernoulli Blower effect by creating a 3D maze!
When we were first exploring our idea, we found that the Bernoulli Blower had previously been commercialized into a kid's game (two, actually). The scale and control schemes of the games are different than what we created, but the concept is the same - navigate a floating ball around obstacles to the goal.
Levitate a ball around a track using the power of your brain to change the air power! Staring intensely at the ball is required, apparently.
The same thing as Mindflex, but you use magic (not air) to levitate the ball.
We took the Bernoulli Blower and scaled it up! Instead of a portable toy, we decided to make it into a tabletop game (approximately 3ft wide x 4ft high x 5ft deep) with an industrial-grade vaccum providing the airflow. Here's one of our original top-view sketches of the game layout (compare it to how the final assembly turned out here). Gameplay is simple: navigate the ball through 3 dimensions, past the obstacles, to the goal! If you hit an obstacle with the ball, it will be knocked off of the airstream and you'll have to restart.
Scoring is determined by time (a faster time means a better score) and the top score is tracked to give players something to compete against.