Firewall: Touch-Sensitive Interactive Wall

Artist Aaron Sherwood and Mike Allison stretched a spandex sheet and used it as an interface that people can touch and push into, creating visuals and music with every interaction.

Very cool.


Microsoft’s new technology transforms your room into a video game

In an unprecedented and long-awaited move, Microsoft has patented a new gaming console that blends projector and Xbox/Kinect technology to take the video game environment literally outside the box and into your home.  The patent should serve to keep Google’s competing Interactive Spaces project at bay, a project that also uses projection and cameras to map locations and movement using blob-tracking.  The console, being touted as Xbox 720/Kinect V2, projects the 360 degree video game display onto all four of your walls, encompassing you in the game and making your room into the game environment.  It tracks furniture positions and adjusts the projection to visually eliminate them from the environment.

Thanks to science, we are one step closer to creating the Holodeck.   I’m so excited that this is happening in my lifetime.  I think it’s something that every gamer has dreamed of at least once in his or her childhood.  The project is estimated to be under construction for another few years.  In the meantime, you can start working on your startle response so you don’t wet yourself when Left 4 Dead’s Hunter pops out from behind your bed.

Here’s some more technical context for the ‘Immersive Display Experience”  (Source: US Patent via WP7’s site.)

A data-holding subsystem holding instructions executable by a logic subsystem is provided. The instructions are configured to output a primary image to a primary display for display by the primary display, and output a peripheral image to an environmental display for projection by the environmental display on an environmental surface of a display environment so that the peripheral image appears as an extension of the primary image.

An interactive computing system configured to provide an immersive display experience within a display environment, the system comprising: a peripheral input configured to receive depth input from a depth camera; a primary display output configured to output a primary image to a primary display device; an environmental display output configured to output a peripheral image to an environmental display; a logic subsystem operatively connectable to the depth camera via the peripheral input, to the primary display via the primary display output, and to the environmental display via the environmental display output; and a data-holding subsystem holding instructions executable by the logic subsystem to: within the display environment, track a user position using the depth input received from the depth camera, and output a peripheral image to the environmental display for projection onto an environmental surface of the display environment so that the peripheral image appears as an extension of the primary image and shields a portion of the user position from light projected from the environmental display.

[0002] An immersive display environment is provided to a human user by projecting a peripheral image onto environmental surfaces around the user. The peripheral images serve as an extension to a primary image displayed on a primary display.

[0003] This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter. Furthermore, the claimed subject matter is not limited to implementations that solve any or all disadvantages noted in any part of this disclosure.

Source: US Patent via WP7’s site.


Fly Over Beautiful 3D Landscapes in Interactive Game Woodbot Pilots

“A 3D gestural game. Using an IR 3D Camera, we translate gestures of the human body navigate a virtual landscape.

Start the game, choose a character and try and get the fastest time through the race track.

This project was launched at Skellefteå airport in Northern Sweden as an installation.”

Credits: Interactive Institute Umeå, North Kingdom and Adopticum


All images from

Night Bright Interactive Installation of Nocturnal Discovery

Night Bright is an interactive installation where children physically interact with an imaginary nocturnal ecosystem.  As explained by creator Design I/O:

“Night Bright is an interactive installation of nocturnal discovery where children use their bodies to light up the nighttime forest and discover the creatures that inhabit it.  Listening to the creatures’ sounds children can locate them in the forest, as they play a nighttime game of hide and seek.  Some creatures are curious and will investigate the light, while others are frightened and will hide in the shadows.  Using their light, children can grow nocturnal plants and release fireflies from their flowers.  The fireflies illuminate the environment and help locate the creatures hiding in the forest.
Night Bright was created for the Bumble children’s cafe in Los Altos, California.

Music for the video documentation courtesy of Diederik Idenburg / MOST Original Soundtracks.” (Design I/O)


Source: All images from Design I/O.

Finally, an interactive installation for festival crowds!

Sydney-based studio Rezon8 came up with a way to make music festival goers interact even more by immersing them in an augmented reality system where imaginary creatures will frolic with you.  Great interactive things come from Australia! In “Curious Creatures,” you can interact with these strange animals as if it were a projected petting zoo (now there’s an idea…)! The piece was a finalist in SXSW Interactive this year. Check out the videos below for a peek at how it was done:

How they did it:

About Rezon8:

“Rezon8 create Interacta Systems using cutting-edge computer vision techniques, 3D scanning technology and intelligent targeting software to interact with customers in public spaces. By focusing on augmented reality, Reson8 has turned once passive out-of-home advertising into a highly engaging and innovative communication medium.”

About the project:

“This project was developed through the Splendid arts program and commissioned for Splendour in the Grass 2010. Splendid is a Lismore Regional Gallery project, in partnership with Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA), Splendour in the Grass and funded through the Opportunities for Young and Emerging Artists Initiative (OYEA) of the Australia Council.”

Source: Rezon8 Curious Creatures

Covering your Walls with Crayon=not Just for Kids

What you are looking at is ADA, Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s giant interactive crayon ball that allows adults to indulge their inner toddler. A transparent globe is filled with helium, covered in charcoal sticks, and sent off into a pure white room for utter destruction.  If you’re looking for a more artful description, check out the artist’s statement here.  While I’m sure it’s got some deep meaning behind it (or not, whatever), all I can really think about is how fun it must be to channel your inner child and just go to town on those walls via the biggest balloon you’ve ever got your hands on.  I mean, those walls are really just begging to be tampered with.  Check out this girl’s smile at 01:00, you can tell she’s loving it:

Karina Smigla-Bobinski is a Munich and Berlin-based artist who works with digital, analog, and mixed media.  She has some very interesting public video installations and light installations. View the entirety of her portfolio on her professional site.


Source: Karina Smigla-Bobinski

Laser Cave Prototype is Freaking Awesome.

In general, you know something is cool when you think it’s 10 times bigger than it actually turns out to be – and the same applies to Suryummy’s “Laser Cave Prototype.”  From stop-motion animation miniatures to the Mona Lisa to Nanotechnology, there is worldwide appreciation for working with the tiniest tiny objects you can get your paws on.  Laser Cave is not that tiny, but I couldn’t believe my eyes at 0:18 where the camera zooms out to reveal the whole thing is just a little box.  I had been picturing something more along the lines of Wonwei/SuperNatureDesign’s “Prisma 1666” where the piece takes up the entire floor.  However, by using mirrors Laser Cave is able to achieve this out-of-the-box type of effect.  The piece was prepared for Mekanism’s “After School Special” art show

Actual Size

Actual Size

Laser Cave Prototype from Suryummy on Vimeo.

Source: Suryummy

Interactive Chandelier made of Cell Phones

“Mobile Mobile” is not your typical clap-on-clap-off kind of lamp-instead it’s made out of dangling, jingling cell phones.  Unfortunately, this project took on some serious kitschy-ness when it was used to play Christmas jingles in a company lobby, but aside from that, it’s quite creative.  I don’t mean to put down this project but Christmas jingles really are wasted on this cool project if you ask me! I’d way rather see it playing some kind of traveling video, or allow the audience to interact with phone sounds using something other than traditional christmas tunes.  To quote Stephen Hawking,

‎”It does seem slightly pitiful that so many of our great scientific and engineering minds are being wasted on creating fine new ways to pay for your shampoo with your iPhone, rather than on creating machines that can swiftly and safely transport humans to occupy the Planet Yog.”  (Cnet)

Interesting to think about.  While these projects are cool as is, it’s okay to be critical–that’s how bigger, better things come about, right?  In another vein, something I also like here is the idea of using recycled technology as art.  Those phones are new-looking but still obsolete for the company that replaced them.  Watch the video below and then scroll down to read about how it was made.

What I found most impressive was the programming that went into the project.  Here’s what artist James Theophane has to say about it:

“About The Technology We Used – by Oliver DewdneyThe plan was to make 50 mobiles to each play a different note of a Christmas carol, and flash in time. We set up a test mobile phone – an HTC Touch – to connect to a wifi access point whilst being powered by a charger.

We ‘ping’ed the IP address of the phone for two days to verify that it would remain contactable. The phone did get a tiny bit warm, but it worked. We noticed that the ping time changed significantly between different power modes on the wifi of the mobile – from 100ms down to about 2ms on ‘performance’.

The plan was to write a small program that ran on the phone that understood a small set on instructions and have a controller running on a PC sending the commands. The basic list of commands was: light on/off, change colour ‘wash’ and beep.

The first challenge was turning the backlight off – WinMobile is a multitasking OS running WindowsCE as the kernel. The power management subsystem allows you to suggest power settings, but the OS takes into account all the running programs needs.

Turning the backlight fully off proved problematic in the project timescales (a matter of days). Next was beeping. The PC has always had a speaker that could beep – it was connected to the chip that controlled the keyboard – so has had a corresponding function e.g. in windows the MessageBeep function.

WindowsCE was designed for a range of platforms and embedded controllers and it looks like beep was not a core function. Luckily the Microsoft developers included some sample code on how to implement a MIDI sound system expecting hardware manufacturers to license third party full musical instrument libraries. It looks like the manufacturers kept with the simple sine wave sample code implementation.  This was good enough for our mobile phone beeping musical rendition.

The program on the phone was written in Microsoft .Net C# and consisted of two parts: one registering with a web service – logging the fact that it was still alive and its current IP address, and two a UDP listener – listening for commands from the controller over the network.

The controller was written to read the midi file of the Carol and send the individual notes to individual phones at the right time. Using UDP instead of TCP and the ‘performance’ setting on the phone meant that the commands arrived promptly on the phones.”

Source: Theophane Website

Interactivity Without Physical Contact: How does it work?

Check out this cool interactive piece by Jack Schulze and Timo Arnall called “Nearness.”  If you’re a frequent YouTuber you’ve probably seen videos of “near field communication” inventions before, which basically just means that two objects can communicate by existing in close proximity.  What I like most about this type of work and this piece in particular is how clearly it shows that “everything happens for a reason.”  Now, usually when people use that phrase they are talking about some kind of higher power, usually God’s plans, something happening because of specific intent or destiny.  No one can know that.  This piece demonstrates what we do know–cause and effect. Everything happens as a result of something else happening, a domino effect, butterfly effect, whatever you want to call it.  A piece of dust lit up by the sunlight catches your eye for a split second, and your entire day is affected whether you like it or not.  The same is apparent in this piece, except unlike in our own lives it’s all laid out in front of you.  It’s such a simple idea, isn’t it? But it’s what created life. It’s not to be underestimated. Watch it play out in “Nearness” below:

Nearness from Timo on Vimeo.

To see more of these cool projects, check out the Noupe article “15 Amazing Interactive Installations” where I learned about these.

Interactive Artist Spotlight: Scott Sona Snibbe

Scott Sona Snibbe has been in the interactive art world for a long time and has an impressive track record, having collaborated in the past with artists Bjork and filmmaker James Cameron.  What I like best about his work is his objective; Snibbe says, “The purpose of my work is to bring meaning and joy to people’s lives….By using interactivity, I hope to promote an understanding of the world as interdependent; destroying the illusion that each of us, or any phenomenon, exists in isolation from the rest of reality.”  His work succeeds in this, dealing mainly with interconnectivity, cause & effect, relativity, and illusion.  Below are three of my favorite pieces; “Make Like a Tree” (2005), “Falling Girl,” (2008), and “Boundary Function” (1998).  The first two use shadows captured by camera, one of Snibbe’s preferred motifs.  “Boundary Functions” is quite interesting, especially in how it must be perceived uniquely in different cultures.  Americans are quite fond of their personal space compared to many European and Asian countries, so I’d be curious to see the varied responses from these audiences.

To read more about Scott Sona Snibbe, check out this great article from MetroActive: “The Power of Play.”

“Make Like a Tree” (2005)

“As viewers walk in front of Make Like a Tree’s projected wall, their shadows are recorded and return to this same image as eerie figures in the foreground and background that move between trees, disappear suddenly, and fade into the distance.”

“Falling Girl” (2008) collaboration with Annie Loui

“Falling Girl is an immersive interactive narrative installation that allows the viewer to participate in the story of a young girl falling from a skyscraper. During her miraculously slow descent, the girl reacts to the people and events in each window. Daylight fades, night falls and passes, and at dawn, when the falling girl finally lands on the sidewalk, she is an aged woman bearing no resemblance to the young girl who started her fall minutes before.

Captured on an interactive wall, the silhouettes of viewers viewers appear in apartment windows to juxtapose against the ever-present central image of the girl in silhouette falling slowly as she gets older and older. In this way, viewers participate in this tale about the shortness of our lives and the petty concerns that often occupy us.”

“Boundary Functions” (1998)

“We think of personal space as something that belongs entirely to ourselves. However, Boundary Functions shows us that personal space exists only in relation to others and changes without our control.

Boundary Functions is a set of lines projected from overhead onto the floor, dividing people in the gallery from one another. When there is one person on its floor, there is no response. When two are present, a single line cuts between them bisecting the floor, and dynamically changing as they move. With more than two people, the floor divides into cellular regions, each with the quality that all space within it is closer to the person inside than any one else.”

All project descriptions, videos, and images taken from Scott Sona Snibbe’s website.