Chess Camera was located in the Coffee Room of our department in 2004
both for recreational purpose and for stimulating people to think
about the research problems involved. Team Chess was played so that
anybody could freely join in either of two the teams (white or black)
and make the move for the team when desired. There were no rules who
could make the move. Typically people focused the game while drinking
coffee but because of being able to see the board via internet
(or intranet), one could check the progress of the game, and if
a move (more coffee) was needed. This was fun and enhanced
discussions between people across the typical group and social
Two variants were played: (1) team playing with normal rules,
(2) team playing wo/ turns allowing each team to make two moves
anytime; once before the noon, and another move afternoon before
midnight. If the team failed to make the move in time, the opposite team
could exploit it by winning tempo, or even material.
Besides increasing social interactions between people, the
chess camera also inspired people to think about the related research
problems in machine vision and artificial intelligence within
concrete and entertaining within web-supported game playing.
The ultimate goal was to build an intelligent system being able to
recognize the board from the image (3-d image registration), recognice
the pieces (3-d object matching), record the chess position at the
moment, recognize when a move was made, detect the move, and keep
tracking of the game going on.
Additional features would be to analyse the position on board,
analyse the quality of the moves using chess-playing engine.
The analysis and suggestions by computer could be showed after
the move made on the web-page. Someone even proposed to involve
hand-recognition to identify the people who made the move based
on the image, since biometric person authentication is one of
the research problems studied in our department.
All of the above are typical computer science problems and would be
a good test bench for students studying these topics. At least the
people in our department got hooked at this and were interested to
develop the ideas further. Unfortunately, the camera is no longer in
its original position because of strong objection of one faculty
member, who claimed it hurt his privacy (the camera potentially could
record people drinking coffee). My opinion is that this was more
about malice and pesonal anger than issue of somebody's privcay.
A survey to find out whether people
really were against the chess camera itself, but despite of the
results was completely in favour of
having the Chess Camera, department head ordered the camera to be
removed in order to please this disagreeing person.
No serious research was managed to completed before this, but couple of
student projects were made before the un-installation of the system.
Now there are hardly any chess playing going on in the coffee room,
nor similar inspiring things on-going, but if your work environment
is more tolerant, I suggest you to try it out since the idea is good.
We are now focusing on more boring and less innovative research problems
instead, and having the fun stuff and similar innovative activities
outside from the coffee room. Here is a link for those interested
another chess variant called football
Oh yes, the idea for installing the Chess Camera is not mine so
the credits are due to someone else - Thanks to this person and all
others who participated this experimental system! (no names mentioned
here in order to prevent any bad feelings to be targetted to anybody
else besides me)