Camera tests & The Black Box

Written by on 15th November 2011 in Experiments, Portals, Thoughts with Leave a comment

First, a couple of things that didn’t really work this morning…  I was trying to use our IP cameras to create a panoramic source for the Motion Tracker widget. Unfortunately the refresh rate on those things is just WAY too slow to work properly. So I got frustrated and bought a $30 webcam from Staples, which works wonderfully, although you can’t place them side by side to make a long panoramic..Next test was getting things onto the iPad to use it as a front display. I tried Air Display, Live View, and Ustream. Unfortunately all 3 of those also had a lag time that was not going to work for me. I was also playing around with CamTwist’s various effects. At first I thought they were all just cheesy filters but the ability to dynamically chroma key and layer video on top of each other was really exciting…

And I was finally ready to start making a box! I found the smallest screen in the studio and the smaller end table fit together pretty well. I’m imagining a more refined version would be both smaller and fully enclosed except for a place to put in your hand. But I think this version actually works pretty well for now..

Thanks to Andrew for both lending me his little people and modeling : )  At first I was hoping the camera wouldn’t be so zoomed in, but I think it’s actually kind of nice. I love the scale shift between the human, the interface, and the mini people. I think what I like about going behind the screen to interact with tangible things is that it sort of plays with the layers of virtual/physical. And it also starts to think about interaction beyond “Pictures Under Glass” cause the thing with touch screens is they’re very much still separated by that barrier.

I definitely need a cleaner background and light it better for a cleaner chroma key. But I sort of like the chunky artifacts. Sort of stays true to the loss of fidelity in going from a physical thing to a digital thing.

I’m feeling pretty good about where this is going. I also feel like there’s lots of other ways this could be even cooler. For instance if I could somehow track for position of objects and then have them appear to animate on the screen after you’ve placed them into the space. Or if the box knew what you were adding and could add additional things related to that specific object. I ordered some RFID stuff to try out so hopefully I could use that to identify objects as they pass through the opening to the box. I am also thinking another element I could add in would be “anonymous hands” that also add to your scene while you’re using it. In theory they would be from other networked boxes, in reality they might just be videos overlaid on top.

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