Portfolio Task Tobias Penny 14559583

Projection Mapping

Projection mapping is a technique that uses a normal projector to project interactive images onto a 3d surface, rather than a flat 2d one.

Typically the animation/ visuals are tailor made for a specific event or performance. The images are manipulated by the software so that when projected they interact naturally with the surface instead of becoming warped/ distorted.

Projection mapping isn't just used for projecting onto buildings and other not flat surfaces, it can be used to track projections onto a moving target. As is demonstrated by the illusions projected in the following video which was filmed in actuality without any post production effects.

At the moment projection mapping requires the points of the 3d surface to be manually inputted to the computer. However I believe this technique could potentially utilise the kind of 3d mapping technology being developed for self driving cars. If the environment could be scanned and the projection mapped automatically then this would open up the possibility of commercial and domestic use of projection mapping.

Interactive Projection

Interest in projection mapping has increased massively in the last few years, this could be due to the new advancements in projection interactivity.

For decades the audience experience of projection art has been entirely observational. However, new advancements in interactive projection technology has unlocked massive new potential for projection. This video shows projections that are responsive to movement and allow users to interact with the images.

Right now this makes for a fun game or interesting gimmick for a museum exhibition. However this video showcases some concepts for the future use of interactive projection.

The part in the video which particularly caught my eye is the part where the projection was giving cooking instructions. Instead of trying to follow cooking instructions on a screen or in a book, video tutorials and instructions can be projected directly onto the work surface. This concept has many advantages such as the tutorial will not move forward to the next step until the scanner recognises that the previous step has been completed. This is a more convenient alternative to pausing and un-pausing a video and eliminates the risk of spilling food on a tablet/ laptop (or book).

I believe this concept of projected cooking instructions has particularly great potential to assist adults with learning difficulties to help them become more independent. Interactive projection is very easy interface to use. The instructions given could be entirely visual and use images, videos and arrows to point to the correct cooker controls/ cooking implements for the user's reference. This could be invaluable to adults with learning difficulties who want to cook for themselves, or to people suffering brain injuries or short term memory problems.

Virtual Reality

The Difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

AR (augmented reality) is when virtual elements are placed into reality and interact with and respond to the environment. This is often demonstrated using applications that alter the live image on a smartphone and introduce virtual elements. Video Example

VR (virtual reality) is a completely virtual world that fully immerses the user. VR requires a headset such as the Oculus Rift that when worn places the user to see into a virtual world. Video Example

Early VR

Although the term "virtual reality" was not coined until 1987, some of the first uses of immersive virtual reality was in the 1830's when research revealed that when looking at two stereoscopic images side by side the brain processes them as one 3d image with depth.

This concept was developed into "stereoscopic photo viewers" which were headsets that allowed users to view a stereoscopic illusion that made 2d photographs appear 3d.

The basic design principles of these old stereoscope devices are still used today in simple low budget VR headsets that play stereoscopic videos on phones.

Despite many concepts and attempts by games companies such as Nintendo and Sega throughout the 20th century, VR has still not yet become a commercial success. This is largely due to the technological limitations of the time, VR tech was either too large and impractical or the graphics/ visual display were too primitive compared to a normal screen.

However in 2016 it seems we may be on the precipice of a Virtual Reality revolution. In the last year we have seen the release of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR. Personally I am hesitant as to whether or not these products will have the commercial impact they hope to. It seems many people consider the oculus rift to be nothing more than an expensive gimmick and find that the novelty of VR suffers due to finding the technology more observational rather than interactive. The playstation VR avoids this issue by combining the headset with the "Playstation Move" controller, on their own the move controllers were not initially a hit for the Playstation 3. However, combined with the VR headset they contribute to a far more interactive and immersive experience. The HTC Vive also has handheld controller accessories and is the most advanced and expensive system. While the Vive is a better experience with more advanced technology and has intuitive motion controllers available, the price tag and PC system specs required to use one make owning one an unrealistic dream for many people. In addition, a Vive setup requires a lot of physical space and more technical knowledge than it's counterparts.

As well as the headsets and motion controllers, there are many concepts and products in development for more accessories to enhance the interactive potential of virtual reality. These include exercise bikes, motion sensing gloves, treadmills, and even a full suits that imitate touch within the game.

I believe that many consumers being unable to afford the tech or having space in their homes to set it up may result in a revival the popularity of video game arcades. Spaces where customers can pay to play with all of the technology that they may not be able to own for themselves.

Another interesting development in VR is that Hollywood studio Fox has been investing in virtual reality in what is believed to be an attempt to draw dwindling audiences back to theatres. However I do not believe there is much potential for VR reality cinema to become commercially mainstream. First of all, unlike 3d glasses which can be produced in large quantities very cheaply, VR headsets are expensive and buying so many as to fill a cinema is a large investment, and given the relative failure of 3D I believe many companies and studios will be hesitant to invest in this idea. Secondly, VR is better suited to the video game format, where the aim is for the user to explore and interact with the world. Whereas in films the user is expected to observe and interpret the events shown, directors have the power to make creative choices when choosing what to let the audience see and what not to. VR headsets may take this power away if the audience can turn their heads and look in any direction they choose. VR headsets might make a film audience feel more immersed by filling their vision and not allowing them to look away, it would never feel truly immersive unless the perceived environment is responsive and interactive to the user.

I believe the potential of VR as a group cinema experience only goes as far as a novelty attraction gimmick at museums and theme parks.

Theoretical uses for VR Tech

Learner drivers.

The hazard perception stage of driving theory has now moved on from a live action video and instead uses photo real CGI. The point of the hazard perception is to test a learners reaction time in response to a developing hazard. If learners were to wear a headset this experience would be more realistic, the camera could have a narrower field of view and force the learner to turn their head and physically look around to access the environment.

To take this theory one step further, if this virtual world were to be reproduced as an interactive game rather than a pre-rendered video the user could sit in a virtual car and use a steering wheel and peddles to demonstrate the appropriate physical response. This would allow learner drivers to be taught how to handle the car in an accident, without any real risk. e.g. how to break without skidding or how to recognise a burst tire and stop the car safely.

Augmented Reality

Use of Augmented Reality is often not as glamorous or exciting as VR, but has been around for longer and is far more common. Basic examples of day to day AR includes the "yellow line" on screen in football matches. This virtual marker which does not exist physically on the pitch can be viewed by fans watching on TV.

More creative innovations include this fun game for ice cream tubs. When the lid of the tub is scanned by the smartphone app it attaches a 3d animated character playing an instrument to the lid of the ice cream. Introducing a second tub of ice cream will create a second character to join the first. This novelty gimmick is a fun and creative and way of enticing people to buy the product, and then promote it by sharing the experience with their friends.

There have been many science fiction esque concepts for more glamerous use of AR technology. Such as this smart windscreen concept by Jaguar. This video demonstrates the potential for the concept in use.

PersonallyIdon't believe this concept has much potential in the future, the most useful feature is the heads up display highlighting pedestrians who are a potential hazard. However, many of these features will be made redundant if self driving cars become more common. The only feature that would remain relevant in a self driving car is information such as distance travelled and time to destination, and the part of the video where the screen points out a location of interest as the car drives by. There also may be no need to build this system into the car if it could be personal like a VR headset.

A realistic concept for this was Google Glass. Google Glass was a heads up display lens that when worn on the user's head was no more inconvenient than a typical pair of glasses. The display would produce images and content in front of the users eye such as maps, or internet search results. Combined with sophisticated voice control software this system had the potential to replace smart phones. Smart phones and tablets serve too many of the same purposes as each other. Companies such as Apple can't seem to decide whether to make their phone screens larger or their tablet screens smaller. If you were to replace the smart phone with a more convenient portable alternative like AR glasses then users would have a simpler device for use on the go and a tablet screen for enjoying content on a larger screen or sharing with others, the two devices would then serve separate functions and each be of more use.

Unfortunately the commercial launch was a failure and the product has now been taken out of circulation. While the technology seemed largely well received this article believes the failure was due to a lack of effective marketing. The article claimed that google successfully developed an initial hype for the product, but never completed a successful launch of the product to the public. Basically everyone was excited for it, but nobody knew when it was realised. I know that I for one was extremely excited by the concept when the first trailer was realised, and hoped to buy one when it was released (not that I would have been able to afford it) But the release date came and went without anybody realising. By the time I found out it was commercially available it had been taken out of production.

This is not likely to be the end of AR headsets. Just like holograms the concept has been popular in science fiction for decades, people have always assumed the technology would become common sooner or later. Microsoft are currently developing the Hololens.

Unlike google glass which presents 2d images as if seen on an invisible screen infront of the eye, the Hololens device goes one step further and places a 3d hologram that is tracked into 3d space. (Much like the animation on the ice cream lid) This AR headset may have a greater potential for gaming than a VR headset. Because Virtual Reality inhibits the users vision, a safe environment with plenty of room for the user to move around in is require while they are playing a game. The Microsoft Hololens on the other hand does not require the same restrictions. The user can move around freely and interact with a real life environment whilst still perceiving the game world.

Technology that can analyse and map an enviroment is improving constantly. As I mentioned before, self driving cars are fast becoming a reality. The potential for technology to not just map out a 3d space, but recognise items within it is also improving. The Robot in this video is capable of moving independently within an area, but also searching for and identifying objects.

If this item recognition technology were to be combined with a headset concept similar to google glass, the resulting device could be used to assist people with memory problems in ways such as: Prompting them with names of places, people and items. If they input a shopping list through the voice control software, the glasses could guide them to the shop, remind them what they wanted to buy, and help them find the items in the shop. The robot in the video was able to use logical solutions to look for items in the context of where they are most likely to be located, this could be used to help a person find something like a mobile or keys by suggesting likely places for the item to be or by the device even remembering where was the last place an item was used. (Personally I know I would benefit greatly this function)

Microcontroller Units

"A microcontroller is a self-contained system with peripherals, memory and a processor that can be used as an embedded system."- Future Electronics

But in terms that I can understand: "A micro controller is a small simple computer that can be embedded into a larger machine. For example the computer that runs a vending machine or a phone"-Tobias

(Warning: What follows is my own attempt to understand what a microcontroller is and how it works.)

As shown in the diagram below, information is introduced by the peripherals, and registered by the ram. The CPU follows the instructions stored in the memory to send a response signal to the peripherals. For example: A peripheral temperature sensor in a fridge detects that the fridge is too warm, it sends this information to the CPU, which following the programming from the memory sends an activation signal to the second peripheral which is an alarm that sounds to tell someone the fridge door has probably been left open.

Fun Facts:

The controller unit itself contains the memory and the processor. This is programmed to fulfil a specific purpose.

The "Rom" contains non volatile memory, which means that the information it holds can still be retrieved after the device has been powered down and switched back on. This information would include the programming that tells the controller what to do.

The Ram is temporary memory that holds information long enough for the CPU to complete a function

Peripherals are external/ separate to the main controller, and exchange information. A peripheral could be something such as a camera or a sensor.


Originally MCU's were rather large and only used in machines with the capacity to house them, such as cars. However now that they are smaller they are more common in smaller items such as ovens and phones.

Simple computer processors are now so accessible that it is now being used for kids toys. LittleBits is a robot kit for kits that can be used to make simple devices without advanced engineering knowledge.

This is an excellent educational tool as even thought all of the parts are colour coded and the magnetic links will not let you attach a piece the wrong way around, it teaches kids to understand the process of how a computer works. Much like an electrical circuit, there is an important order that must be followed otherwise the circuit will not work. This will lay the ground work for children to develop an advanced understanding of robotics and engineering.

Arduino is a similar home robotics kit that is more advanced and less childish. The kit is similar, it comes with a central MCU and various options for add on peripherals. The main difference being that Arduino incorporates a coding element. Software code can be dowloaded from their website, but the user must install the correct code themselves and may customize and edit the code to experiment with creating different functions. Ability to code is considered one of the most valuable assessts in the 21st century, and coding is likely to soon become a fundamental skill that everyone will be expected to have a basic understanding of. In 2014 Britain became the first G7 country to introduce compulsory computer science on the school curriculum for all children aged five to 16 - (Source)

20 years ago Steve Jobs said “I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” It is often considered an invaluable skill not just for developing software, but for learning how to think and handle other problems. (Basically if you can handle the relentless hours of torment and frustration while trying to code, you can handle anything)

Barack Obama has urged the people of the nation to take up coding, There is already insufficient numbers of people learning the skills required, and as more real life practical functions become digitally automated from self driving cars down to digital check in systems in dr's waiting rooms, it is now becoming more important than it has ever been that there are enough people with the skills to maintain and develop this digital conversion. Products such as LittleBits and Arduino form a part of the early stages of learning to understand digital systems and use them to innovate and problem solve.

Since the invention of the micro chip technology has continued to get ever smaller and more capable. This flying drone developed at Harvard can sit on a person's finger tip.

If technology continues to get smaller and more effective at the same rate it has, it will soon lead to some very dramatic developments.


The University of California have developed acid propelled nanobots which are self propelling. They have already been used to deliver cargo directly inside a living creature (mouse) by entering the body and travelling through it's blood.

It is believed that in the not too distant future these, and other similar devices will be used to treat illnesses and injuries in humans, such as Cancer.

This video even claims that the technology could one day restore memories and repair damaged cells to the point that humans could effectively become immortal. This is an equally thrilling and terrifying concept. Although there are many complications, in the past diseases and illnesses have often evolved as fast as we can develop cures for them, but if it were possible it would be the single most important technological development in world history. But would it be any good? If people don't age and die, no one would ever get to reach retirement! Most likely the technology will be extremely expensive and the not so well off people such as myself would have to work forever to sustain this new technological lifestyle (very much like the premise of the interesting, although not great movie In Time). For the human race to survive beyond extinction we would eventually have to leave this planet, of which I am quite fond.

Personally I was for a long time afraid that the technology to prolong life to such an extent would only become available long after I am gone and that I would miss that opportunity (it probably still will). But recently my opinion changed when I was contemplating what I would do with my time if I had an unlimited lifespan, and I realised that I probably wouldn't do very much at all. It occurred to me that limited time is often my only motivation to achieve something worthwhile. When I have weeks of free time during the summer I tend not to use it to great effect because I have no reason to hurry, I can always put something off until tomorrow. However when only a short space in time is available to me I am motivated to fill that time as productively as possible, the times when I have the least free time are ALWAYS the times that I am most productive and happy because my achievements and experiences are more precious to me. My opinion is very regularly subject to change, but for the time being I hope I don't ever have to face the choice of whether or not to remain on this world forever (if we are given a choice). But there is probably nothing to worry about, people will most likely use this technology for war before medicine anyway.

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