INTERACTIONS Alicia Tharme

PROJECTION

What Is It?

While projection mapping has recently become popular to artists and advertisers everywhere, the history of projection mapping dates back longer than you may believe. If you try searching for “Projection Mapping” you won’t find anything older than 3 years. That is because projection mapping was formerly known as “Spatial Augmented Reality”.

The first known instance of projection onto a non-flat surface dates back to the 1969 opening of the Haunted Mansion ride in Disneyland. The ride featured a number of optical illusions, including a disembodied head and 5 busts singing the theme song of the ride. These were created by filming the singers (with 16 mm film) and then projecting this film onto busts of their faces.

In 1980, Michael Naimark created a projection piece using a living room with two performers that were filmed with a rotating camera. After filming, the camera was then replaced with a projector. This resulted in a rotating projection mapping.

Thoughts?

This type of technology has the ability to create so many interesting and entertaining opportunities for various purposes. Projection mapping is pretty magical; done well, it’s outstanding when the façade of a building starts creating abstract geometric objects, or crumbles in front of our very eyes. It's a fantastic way to engage with an audience and keep them hooked on what you're showing, especially if a perfect 360 degree view of a projection is shown.

What real-world application could you see this being used for?

Projection mapping technology is currently immersed into the real world. A recent example of this would be O2's 'Wear The Rose'. In September 2015, O2 joined forces with Projection Artworks to create the world's largest projection mapping project and celebrate the Rugby World Cup. Making use of 68 projectors and more than 122 moving head light fixtures, the roof of the venue was transformed into the English rose emblem. According to O2, the show could be seen from space. This is an unforgettable and outstanding way to increase the popularity of projection mapping and an artist's work.

Projection mapping can be used for almost anything and the content and quality of it is what makes it an incredible form of art and technology. Mapping allows you to create almost any visual effect imaginable, this could be an image displayed on a plain screen, to a more complex video played on a 3D backdrop. Examples of where it has been used are at concerts, to retail and even in museums.

Clive using an application to create handmade images to turn them into projections
This is what it looks like projected on a flat surface. We were lining the shape up with the panes of the ceiling to make the projection more clean

VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS

What Is It?

Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.

Using the headset, I was 'flying' a drone and trying to land them on various markings using the keypad

Augmented reality (AR) layers computer-generated enhancements ontop of existing reality in order to make it more interesting through the ability to interact with it. AR is developed into apps and used on mobile devices to blend digital components into the real world in such a way that they enhance one another, but can also be told apart easily.

Thoughts?

Whilst this is a fun and interesting piece of technology, it still has quite a way to go because (especially the AR) it is a little twitchy at times. I found when wearing the head apparatus, it was rather heavy and uncomfortable, especially as I had to wear my glasses whilst looking through them. This could restrict the audience of people using them because it isn't easy or comfortable to wear them with glasses.

What real-world application could you see this being used for?

The most popular and obvious use for both of these softwares would be for gaming, to emerge the user in a better gaming experience and make them feel like they're really involved in the game. Recently Pokemon Go has been increasingly popular as it shows augmented reality to produce Pokemon in real life places such as people's back gardens and the middle of the street.

Virtual reality has even been adopted by the military for training purposes. This is particularly useful for training soldiers for combat situations or other dangerous settings where they have to learn how to react in the best way possible. A virtual reality simulation enables them to do so but without the risk of death or serious injury. They can re-enact a particular scenario, for example engagement with an enemy in an environment in which they experience this but without the real world risks. This has proven to be safer and much less costly than traditional training methods.

These are examples of both Virtual and Augmented reality that we used within our workshop. It's a fun and interactive way to engage users into mixing virtual and real life.

CONNECTING TWO WORLDS- INTERACTIVITY VIA MICROCONTROLLERS

What Is It?

Microcontrollers are hidden inside a surprising number of products. Basically, any product or device that interacts with its user has a microcontroller buried inside. All computers have a CPU (central processing unit) that executes programmes, aswell as RAM (random-access memory) and both input and output devices. They're particularly useful when you're creating a device that doesn’t need the full power of a computer, but does need to be smaller or less expensive.

Arduino

Arduino is a specialised project that created microcontroller-based kits for building interactive projects that can sense and control physical devices. Arduino has become quite popular with people just starting out with electronics, because unlike most previous programmable circuit boards, the Arduino does not need a separate piece of hardware (called a programmer) to load new codes – you can just use a USB cable.

This is my group using the 'SparkFun Inventors Kit' that is programmed with Arduino.

Thoughts?

There is no doubt that this technology is essential to every day life in every way, even down to use in educating children in the fundamentals and basics of electricity. Microcontrollers are used vastly in everyday items such as dishwashers, remote controls and cars. A modern car can even contain around 40 of them. Advantages of using one would be that the size of a circuit can be reduced significantly, which allows for greater flexibility, therefore they are clearly an incredible piece of technology. I wish I had more time to get to experiment with them, because I am sure I would've grown to appreciate them even more.

What real-world application could you see this being used for?

Educational programmes such as BBC Bitesize have several pages on microcontrollers aimed at children with information that most adults don't even know.

Clive demonstrating the components involved in the making of circuits
These are magnetic circuits from the LittleBits kit that are so simple to use. Here we are making the white disc (on the right) spin when we press the white button (in the middle).

Little Bits

littleBits is a company that makes an open source library of open-source electronics, which clip together with small magnets for prototyping and learning. The littleBits mission is to "put the power of electronics in the hands of everyone, and to break down complex technologies so that anyone can build, prototype, and invent." littleBits units are used in more than 2,000 schools, colleges and more. This is just of one many examples as to how microcontrollers are used to create just about anything we interact with, showing their value to us as technological pieces.

We created something similar in class and controlled it to chase around the toy 'BB8'.

Credits:

Created with images by Mr. Riegel - "Interactive"

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