Interactions An insight into the development of virtual environments

Projection Mapping

What is Projection Mapping?

The key concepts behind this form of media involve the use of an image being presented onto an object through the use of projectors. It can be projected onto any surface; altering common objects of a 3D shape into intricate designs. The name itself has a variety of terms such as Spacial Augmented Reality and Video Mapping. The key functionality of projecting onto an object allows producers to set sequences that weren't possible or could have exceeded a budget. Through development across the years, projection mapping has become a medium that appeals to a specific audience; with vast capabilities in advertisement to fulfill its role.

Originating in 1969 at Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride; the use of projectors allowed images to be implemented into an open sequence and onto objects to create optical illusion. Due to the early stages of the technology, the results weren't as prominent as hoped for with the main attraction that had appeal being a range of ghostly characters dancing around a ballroom.

(Disneyland's Haunted Mansion Ghost Dancers)

Projection mapping diverged into a more pre-defined form of its usage in 1980, when artist Michael Naimark set a sequence where individuals would interact with an object; which would then be projected later to give the appearance of them in the room. This benchmarks itself from the intentional approach of Walt Disney, although technological advancements made this work to a cleaner standard of work for its time.

It wasn't until the late 1990's that projection mapping became an educational study, where students at the University of North Carolina began development on the Office of the Future; a project designed to be able to connect multiple locations and give the appearance of being in another location. Due to the current technology at the time, the idea didn't work as planned but did set the motion for other brands to begin their initial research into the topic area.

The Office of the Future Sketches

Opinions on the subject matter

From a biased view, I feel that this software is beneficial to the industry that it presents itself in. With the current possibilities that media allows, a style different from classical film creates something to stand out. An attraction that only requires space and lighting to create a different element as a whole can be more visually pleasing than many other aspects of the industry.

By using projection mapping, the author is setting limits yet also opening a range of new capabilities to their work. Through allowing development onto near any object with the use of one projector, it becomes a mobile workflow that is adaptable to its surroundings.

Like many forms of media, there are limitations to this which can hold it back and due to the rise in other industry practices; there could be potential for projection mapping to be forgotten. Even with the current technology that we currently have, there is still a lot more that could be implemented into this ideal and as technology develops so will the style.

The main downfall to this style of production is the conditions in which it must be presented. Its limitations force it to be in a dark environment, leaving a major element of attraction out of its final products and diminishing audience viewings.

Real World Applications

Like many aspects of the media industry, the usage of a certain media form mainly falls into specific categories. Even with the diverse mixing of elements, these forms of media fall into one industry structure and revolves itself around that. In the base of projection mapping; it's primarily used in advertisement by companies. By having the capabilities to present an extravagant show onto any model wherever the producer see's fit, it develops an enormous range of possibilities. A prime example of its use in advertisement is through its usage in Porsche's Macan advertisement for 2016; where a dance performance was tied in with 3D projection mapping to create a performance that was well remembered in attempts to recognize the product.

Even with advertisement as one of its main contributors, there is a vast nature that this style of work fits into. With events such as live concerts, gaming, computing, theater and general decoration; the overall appeal and demand for this application shows its usefulness and development from its early stages.

(Northern Ballet's Cleopatra Tour Projection Mapping)

Virtual & Augmented Reality

Defining the term 'Virtual Reality'

Seen as one of the newest revelations in its growth through the current years, virtual reality is a medium that has been hidden away amongst many forms of the media. Originating back to 1838 when Charles Wheatstone created Stereoscopic photographs; virtual reality has developed itself into a whole new commodity. Its prime intentions was to develop an atmosphere in which the viewing audience becomes part of the adventure or sequence. One of the initial moments when the development of virtual reality came into the spotlight was the construction of the Sensorama in 1957 by Morton Heilig. His vision was to create a system in which all the senses would be put into motion, allowing full engulfment into the project on screen. This idea was later adapted in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland and his accomplice Bob Sproull; who together created the first virtual reality head mount labelled the Sword of Damocles. It was only at 1987 where the phrase augmented reality was given its initial name by Jaron Lanier; whom was a part of the first company to sell the virtual reality goggles known as the EyePhone.

There is a wide distinction between virtual reality and augmented reality. Virtual is controlled by an accelerometer which is commonly known as a camera detection device. The 3D imagery is developed by having one of the lenses slightly off-center to the other; which plays an illusion on the eye to create the final effects. All of this gives a brief insight into how far virtual reality has adapted since its origins with the Stereoscopic photographs. With many of the company giants of 2016 releasing products relating to the virtual experience, the competition and development is advancing rapidly.

Defining the term 'Augmented Reality'

With similar aspects and goals to virtual reality, augmented reality is a form of media that diverts back through a range of years of development. Whilst under the same category in 1968 with Ivan Sutherland's Sword of Damocles; augmented reality took a different approach to their development with ties into other aspects of the digital media age. Given that Myron Krueger's Videoplace tied in well with projection mapping in 1978, it's apparent that a merging of two mediums was attempted to create a more interactive experience. In a similar fashion and time period, it was only in 1990 where the term augmented reality was first coined by Tom Caudell; a Boeing researcher attempting to come up with alternatives to expensive diagrams and marking devices.

Ivan Sutherland's Sword of Damocles

Augmented reality didn't become a commercial success until 1998, when it began to push itself towards the entertainment industry due to the advancement of development in technology. From here a range of open software development systems were produced where a variety of companies spiraled it towards their own requirements and productions. It was only in 2013 where augmented reality made the major leap towards the consumer audience with car manufacturers beginning to develop their own applications. A key point in all of this was Google Glass in 2014; where the first wearable augmented reality was released publicly.

Opinions on the subject matter

Both augmented and virtual reality have proven their practicality in the media industry throughout the years; with recent developments giving them a push towards an achievable goal. Adding a new practice into the industry such as this opens a broad market that is beneficial to the development of the industry. It unlocks capabilities that weren't there beforehand which lets artists create new elements to showcase their skills. In a personal view, I see virtual and augmented reality as something that will surpass a lot of modern day technologies and become a prime aspect of the media industry.

Due to its unfamiliarity with any other products, it creates a perspective of separation from the rest of the industry. This could be directed towards its new appeal into the industry but given the possibilities this technology unlocks of the industry it has an enormous potential to become the next media normality.

Real World Applications

Given its major success in the video gaming industry, there are plenty of other practicalities involved with positioning this into a potential for businesses that are less affiliated with the media industry. Education is a prime example of this, allowing for a different insight into the world of teaching with a potential way of helping students learn through remembrance of their viewing experience. These forms of application are used in a wide range of industries venturing from communications to the military. They've adapted themselves to become case specific holding benefits in a large quantity of businesses standardized equipment. One of their largest purposes for usage is through the use of simulators; allowing them to project themselves into a reality that would be unsuitable for human trial of into an environment that surpasses human capabilities; primarily used by military personnel.

Training exercises by the military using virtual reality

Through the use and advancement of this software, the capabilities and potential for its growth and tremendous, with its recent development in the past five years spanning across such a wide platform and appealing to a range of audiences. The overall practice for this application

Connecting Two Worlds

Defining the term 'Two Worlds'

When hearing the phrase ‘connecting two worlds’, the audience is left with a lot to imagine. The ideal is based around device connection; primarily the interactivity of micro-controllers. In short, a micro-controller is a small computer which senses input from the real world and adapts its response to that. They are usually simplistic devices that are created in the purpose of running a programme that doesn’t require the full capabilities of a desktop computer. These forms of contraption are developed to be user friendly; running with basic sensors and output devices alike to avoid complication for the consumer.

The range of possibilities that can be created with this are large whilst also being limited to the capabilities of the technology. Many consumers have used this in a range of ways to display text, draw images via robotic arm and even develop small vehicles. Due to their stereotypical price ranges, the products available are simple to obtain with minimal space and understanding of the product needed to develop a project.


One of the primary functions of this style of product is through connectors. Arduino is a product that specifies its uses and aids in simple development of a range of different projects depending on the consumer’s knowledge of the subject. Arduino is an open source project that develops micro-controller based kits. These kits are used to build digital devices that can sense and control physical devices varying from motors to electronic boards to display text. Using a simplified version of C++, Arduino allows the viewer to adjust the code to display a text message of their choosing along the connector.

The hardware itself was first introduced in 2005 as a prototype based around an Interaction design at the Institute of Ivrea. It was created to help designers with little knowledge of the subject connect physical and digital worlds together. Initially, inspiration came from the Wiring; a thesis projected developed by Hernando Barragan.

Arduino 1.0 Hardware


To a similar nature as Arduino, LittleBits offers consumers a chance of developing a range of projects depending on the product kit they have obtained. Originating in New York City, the company offers open sourced software with its main functionality being its snap magnetic components; allowing for simple and clean construction. Through the use of the magnetic components and their styling of colours, LittleBits has become a product that has assisted in simple understanding of the market they are trying to provide for; allowing any age or understanding to be able to develop their own products.

Their ideal aim is to place the power of electronic compatibility and development into the hands of the consumer. With their business available in over 70 countries, the possibilities and development has varied depending on cultural and stereotypical products in that region. The company itself has been listed within CNN’s top 10 start-up companies in 2013; whilst further continuing their approach into the industry.

LittleBits magnetic connectors

Opinions on the subject matter

Many aspects of the interactive two worlds have given their appeal towards a range of industries; displaying its capabilities to a digital course through trial. The overall methods and practicalities of these forms of product are limited but intriguing nonetheless. With my personal experience of the product, I find that it has its potential but to a very specific audience, diverging into questions of its practicality towards other aspects of the industry.

The overall ideals behind the style are very interesting and when engaged in production of an object; the consumer can become immersed very quickly. I felt its simplicity made it a fine piece of work; opening possibilities to many whom wouldn’t have had an interest in the topic before, and using simple steps can develop a product of their own.

Comparing the two products used; Arduino and LittleBits, I personally felt that LittleBits was the most engaging. Its general style and practicalities made it very engaging and the overall style of creations from the pack made it feel more like an educational toy, being beneficial to interesting its consumers by giving them something enjoyable to play with.

Real World Application

By diverging themselves towards a specific brand of consumer, many companies involved in the development of the two world products have allowed themselves to create a unique and universal product. The simplicity and appeal that this has for the consumer aids their cause by further establishing their branding towards those interested. Like many of these products, a key functionality of this is for education; allowing a new tool for lecturers to present to present usage to their students through simple demonstration. This style of hardware has been widely used amongst designers, engineers, developers and makers as a whole. Its audience continues to grow with its development by appealing to those with little interest who hold some curiosity into what it presents.

Arduino used in education

With its simplicity, children can begin to learn from this hardware at a young age alongside companies such as LittleBits intentionally adding an age recommendation to their products. The platform has aided those who are in need of micro-controllers, but may fall short on funding or not require it to the extent of bringing a desktop computer for their project. By allowing development in an educational way, brands have created a cheap alternative to some of the more strenuous methods of developing circuit boards that follow a similar nature.

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