Interactions Sophie Rowson | Digital Media

Projection Mapping

Projection Mapping is used to turn any object into a display surface for video projection through the use of specialised applications and software. Creators are able to transform any surface/building into an interactive virtual pice of art, and the most popular uses for such technology include museum exhibitions, advertisements, and during concert performances.

I went into these workshops completely open minded. I had a basic understanding of what projection mapping was, and how it was done, but nothing more. The detail in all of the projection mapping I have ever experienced had always amazed me, but how the creators got from a concept to such a display had never crossed my mind until now. On using the app on my tutors iPad, I was shocked at how simple and easy it was to use. I experimented with the shapes and stock images provided by the application, and found my self enjoying the experience all together. On further research, however, I found my experience extremely simplified and my creation far from that of a professional projection mapper. All I had was a tablet, a projector, and a flat surface, some of the examples shown in class had to take into account different lighting, the depth of people's faces and buildings, their animations are extremely complex, and although I found it rather easy to do, it is clear there is much more to projection mapping than just drawing on an app. The only restriction in projection mapping is the skill you have, and with this in mind, I am extremely interested in learning more about the process and enhancing my basic knowledge.

As a student with no prior experience in the field of projection mapping I am extremely interested in where this technology will head. The majority of projection mapping is used to augment reality, which can reduce a number of issues during performance for actors and participants. For example, when performing on stage, a singer can seem go from standing in the middle of a rainforest on one instant, to deep under the sea, both impossible to do on stage and without health risk. This can also reduce the production cost of any production, as nothing is lost if the director decides to move the scene of their piece from ice to fire.

There is already evidence of companies using 3D projection mapping to advertise products, so advancing the technology can only see more realism and creativity in this concept. The closer to reality this technology becomes, the more advanced its help may be. In this technology's future, I see it becoming a fundamental aid in education, be it helping musicians play an instrument, simulating vehicle movement, space travel, and possibly even help doctors on surgical procedures. This advancement in technology could prove to be life saving, helping people to understand the world from their bedroom.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

The main difference between augmented Reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is the involvement of the real world.

Virtual reality is the simulation and recreation of reality, usually immersing the user through a head set that blocks all visuals from outside its screens. The simulation can is changed and moved according to the movement of the headset, allowing the user to move freely in a completely generated reality. Without the visual representation of real life, the user is immersed into worlds where destruction and consequence is minimal. Early examples of VR include 'Sensorama', built by Morton Heilig, and developed into new devices compatible with some smart phones and consoles.

Augmented reality (AR) does exactly as it says - it augments reality. Where VR replaces reality, AR layers components on top of reality, merging generated elements with real elements. All common examples of augmented reality are in apps and software available on portable devices, an example being the new Pokémon Go application, in which the user can see reality through the camera of their phone, however on catching a pokémon, the creature is seen to be in their world. The term 'Augmented Reality' was only first used in 1990, a year after the term for 'Virtual Reality' was coined.

My experience with augmented reality was none existent before I began this workshop. My involvement in virtual reality has been limited to watching other use the devices, therefore I had an understanding of how it worked, how it can be used, and the effect it can have on people through the reactions of others, so getting my hand on some devices was quite exciting for me. In order to become accustomed to the world of AR and VR, I began by using the app 'Aurasma' and placing elements on top of chairs and desks in the room. With limited knowledge and only brief worded tutorial, the app was great for me and my classmates who had no prior encounter with and AR. Within minutes, we were able to make a clown dance on a chair, and have a scorpion walk on our tutors desk, which to me was very entertaining. I then began to experiment with the app at home, using it to show before and after images of my two german shepherds, and proceeded to show my family, impressing them. The app is basic, but to ignorant eyes, effective.

When it came to my visual reality, my excitement hit the roof. I had seen countless youtube videos of people being amazed by the VR experience, and before I got a chance to use it I was worried my build up may make it underwhelming, but it didn't. In the headset, we played a free steam game called 'The Lab' where we had a chance to shoot catapults towards a warehouse full of boxes and content. Not only was the activity within the game immersive, but the detailed environment helped me to forget where I was in reality. On been given the controllers, it took little time to get used to the controllers, even without instruction i was able to get comfortable with them. The in game instructions were all I needed to find my feet in the game, and by the second round of the game I was relaxed in what I was doing.

I believe that the future of augmented and virtual reality is rather similar to projection mapping in that it will be most effective in education, but this technology is so advanced already that it may already have opportunities to do so. Both AR and VR have the possibility to make surgery as real as possible whilst remaining virtual, reducing the consequences of failure. Mental health may also be aided through the use of virtual reality, possibly creating a calming escapism for people with post traumatic stress disorders, or relaxing phobias such as fear of flying in both adults and teenagers.

Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers are a small computer embedded into another another form to technology in order to control its functions based on the input. They are designed to make life as simple as possible, each device being dedicated to one, and only one, task due to their read-only memory (ROM). Compared to a plugged in personal computer that takes 50 watts to function, microcontrollers have been known to need just 50 milliwatts to work, their size assured to minimise cost. Their low power and cost makes them extremely popular in todays industry, and the lack of wire's mean they can be found in a large number of products, such as LED and LCD screened microwaves, mobile phones, and television remotes.

Like the other products and softwares in this module, I was both uneducated and unaware of this product. I had obviously experienced microcontrollers in devices such as television remotes and microwaves, but I was unaware that these small devices were the reason these were possible to use.

The first kit I experimented with was Arduino, which I found quite difficult to get the hang of. The complexity of this kit was increased due to the small size of the components, meaning without full attention, it was hard to work out. The board and each component was not that dissimilar to a typical circuit board, which I have had some experience with, however this practice payed no benefit to my encounter with Arduino and I began to get frustrated when using it. The simple task I set myself with this kit was to get an LED light to turn on, which I achieved with help from the provided guide, but not without difficulty. The projects some people have made possible with this apparatus is astonishing and if I was confident in working it, I would be interested in experimenting further with it.

LittleBits was much easier and more entertaining to work with. Magnetised pieces meant the assembly of component was quick and simple, and the colours made the product look more attractive all together. This kit also came with a guide, but this one was much easier to follow, with colour coordinated images and straightforward illustrations of where to put what item. Out of the two products I would most definitely consider working with LittleBits in the future, what for I am currently unsure of, but as I was both educated and entertained by using this product, I favour it. The final circuit me and my classmates created looked clean and tidy, and the lack of wires meant connecting one component to another was achieved efficiently and without disruption.

The future of microcontrollers seems rather similar to its present use. Development of more powerful controllers means the use for these kits may extend to stronger devices, making bigger and more complex projects possible for even the simplest of minds. The simplification of kits similar to Arduino may also make home repairs and troubleshooting for microcontrolled devices possible in any household. Arduino currently has the best configuration for correcting mistakes, as each component is separate and replaceable, however the way LittleBits works means it is harder to correct. The development of this will create a device as simple as LittleBits, but as interchangeable as Arduino.

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