Jake Hatton: Interactions Digital media

3D Projection Mapping

What is it?

3D Projection mapping is a form of projection which, in stead of projecting onto a simple flat surface is 'mapped' onto a 3D space. This process of mapping is where the image is able to be made to look 3D, and it can be used for a number of different purposes and to create a number of different effects.

It can be projected onto buildings or walls to create artistic patterns which move or scenes. Additionally it has been used in more practical ways such as onto interactive surfaces allowing for people to affect the way images are projected.

My reactions:

Looking at the more advanced videos of the capabilities of projection mapping, like the Porsche reveal and the New Years Countdown, we can see that there is a great level of innovation and room for exploration with this technology. Mostly, these videos appear as forms of spectacle, often one off displays of a projection. This is fine, however it does seem to be a bit of a waste of hours of work for one short performance, not to be repeated.

There are also some uses of 3D projection in theatre. This allows for theatres sets to be more versatile, falling way and resetting at a moments notice. Additionally, this means that the work can be reused. The same has also been done for live music performances, for example Daft Punk championed the technology during their first performance at Coachella, and recently, Deadmou5 utilised projection mapping on a building during a musical performance launching the Nokia Lumia.

Companies like 59 Productions are a company that specialise in this technology and finding ways to use it creatively. Their work has led them to projects like the touring production of War Horse and the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games which both utilised 3D projection. One in a long term sense and the other as a one off show. Additionally, they have moved onto a format which they've called 'live cinema'. In which they work with actors and cameras all live, while using 3D projection to give it the sense of cinema. Here the audience is allowed to see the process of the film as it is made. This could well be one of the ways in which this medium is taken further and developed. In fact, Francis Ford Coppola has been working on his own form of live cinema and these two mediums could well be worked into one another.

My Uses of the Technology

Playing with the technology in class, what I found was a rather engaging version of the technology. Even for a beginner it was very easy to map a simple pattern and input videos as well. You can see how potentially spending more time on this would lead to creating something very elaborate.

The technology is limited by the need for it to be used in darkness

Where Will the Technology Go?

It seems clear that 3D projection Mapping technology will be utilised heavily in the future, and while the displays of creative projection on buildings is impressive I feel like this may be only the beginning of the capabilities of projection mapping. Some of the most exciting innovations, I feel come from projection mapping being combined with interactive technologies to create extremely advanced technologies which appeal to consumers. One example is the Whirlpool interactive cook pot

This sort of technology is something which is going to be stylish and make money. It can then be innovated by other companies to create other interactive workstations.

Additionally, the RoomAlive project seems like one of the most innovative, yet most complicated uses of projection mapping. Using about 6 projectors an entire room is mapped creating a 3D space in which users can play games. This technology seems like it may be a way off full distribution and will probably be costly in the beginning, however, if it is able to take off it may be one of the most significant and innovative uses of projection mapping. It also feels like an area where others will try to get involved, if a gaming company like Nintendo were to fund them thy could take the technology incredibly far.

Finally, uses like the Perch projection technology is being integrated into stores to create a more interactive shopping experience. Items are being linked with interactive projection displays to give information to shoppers. The practical applications for this could go in a number of directions beyond simply being a tool for stores.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

What is it?

Virtual reality is medium in which environments are simulated, in a way that is so immersive that it can be interacted with and affect by the user. It is done using advanced headsets with duel displays within them, tricking the brain into thinking it is seeing something real in front of them. At a very advanced level, the kind we see with products like the Vive, users are placed into a space where their movements can be recorded and their hands tracked. This allows for them to interact with the world in the way we do normally.

Augmented reality on the other hand, is taking the real world and altering it. This is done using cameras and tracking software that can simulate 3D environments and place it on screen in real time. This has been used in sporting events like American football for years but now consumer products have to be found. I used the product Arisma which allows you to place images within a 3D space and view it through a camera. The image was tracked when the camera mpved and it was fairly responsive.

My Thoughts

Testing products like the Oculus Rift I was initially fairly unimpressed with Virtual reality. I tested it on a flight simulator which I on't feel is exactly the place where a product like that thrives. I then tried the Vive which was a much better display of the potential of VR. While in on the Oculus, I remained sat down and could only explore the world by moving my head; however, when I moved onto the Vive, the advancement of movement with in a 3D space made it far more immersive and interactive. This was by far the most immersive piece of technology or media i have ever used.

Augmented reality did not quite excite me as much. Testing products like Arisma and even more common place technologies like snapchats filters feature, I saw the fun of playing around with these technologies but found that once the initial novelty wore off there was little to do with it. I personally found very few practical applications for AR and so grew bored with it quickly. Additionally, they didn't work too well, the images in Arisma were fairly temperamental and would often stop working.

Where Will the Technology Go?

There has been a lot of talk of using VR technology for gaming, and this seems like a very likely path way something like this could be used for. Products like the Oculus were initially exclusively thought of as a gaming product. Gaming having always been about immersion can really benefit from the innovation of VR. Platforms like the PS4 and Steam have adopted VR into their experiences and a number of developers have taken the initiative to make games that are compatible with VR. Resident Evil VII and the new Batman game are just a few that will utilise VR.

Not only that, but indie developers are using VR to change the way we play games. One example is the game Don't blink which, through tracking the eye, has monsters appear and move when the player blinks. These initiatives in the Horror genre are some of the more exciting developments in gaming. A lot of this VR comes from the Horror genre, a good fit as both rely on the viewer's immersion.

Another area of potential is education. In 2016 surgery was filmed for VR and people were able to see through the eyes of a doctor performing such surgeries. This is now being put into some education institutions as a way of streamlining the education process. The practicality of this could be revolutionary for the profession.

Additionally, the military are using virtual reality in simulators to train soildieres. Not only is this sharpening their military skills but it is also saving them from some of the anxieties of warfare. The military has recently been recruiting young gamer through the success of games like modern warfare. now with virtual reality we see it more.

On the other hand AR could be said to be more accessible than VR as it can be utilised through a smart phone, a device which almost everyone has. Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that while VR is big not it will soon be surpassed by AR.

We have seen a huge adoption of the technology by apps like Snapchat, which now allow users to create a 3D mesh of their face with their phone camera; this is then used to put funny or silly geofilters on your face like those seen below.

Snapchat has also been able to use this feature for marketing campaigns, allowing companies to design specific geofilters for their products which people engage with thus raising awareness. This has been a successful source of revenue for the app and many believe it is where apps like Snapchat's future lies.

Another version of this technology was the summer sensation Pokemon Go which used users GPS and camera to create an online pokemon game in which monsters could appear to be in the real world.

These are just the early stages. AR could be used for things like mapping applications like Google Maps, allowing users to see the rout through their camera.

There area also educational apps available, like Star Chart allow users to point their phones at the sky and view constellations. Apps like these are enjoyable in new ways to learns about the world around us in easy and intuitive ways.

Apps like this, which make visualising things far easier are one of the many ways this tech could develop. The technology could be used in recreations or demonstrations to put what they are seeing in a real-world perspective. We could imagine a device where engineering students put their phones up to the side of a machine to see the inner workings. Or an app for medical students which allows them to essentially look inside the human body through a smartphone.

We can also see this through apps like Google Translate which allow users to put their phone up to signs and have them translated in real time. Practical apps like this are very likely to catch on as they are so easy to use and have so many real world applications.

Connecting Two Worlds: Microcontrolers

What is it?

Micro-connectors are technologies that streamline the process of of things like creating circuit boards and wiring electronics. This done by packaging products as you would a building set like Lego and providing simple instructions for creating processes. By providing a simple set of pieces like and components which can easily be put together and mixed apart so that people can continue to play with them. In this sense they feel less like tools and more like toys, many of the leaders in this field are in fact marketed as toys for children, for example, LittleBits advertises that it is 'Perfect for kids and younger makers'. There are also a number of kits which can be bought for a specific purpose or mixed and matched to create even more complex designs. One example is the LittleBits synth kit.

The beauty of these products is their accessibility to all ages, allowing for anyone to pick them up with no experience and make something interesting and have fun while doing so. However, they can then be expanded upon through sites like IFTTT.com

My Reactions

When using Arduino, I had a very enjoyable experience with the technology. I found it very accessible through its simple instructions and easy lay out. I quickly found myself able to understand simple concepts of electronics. The guides laid out information in a very easy to read way, and made assembling each piece very much smoother.

However, I was only able to use each piece of technology for a short amount of time and I did not find myself able to create innovative pieces of my own design. A lot of the time, following the instructions felt like being taken through a step-by-step guide without much room for your own input. However I can see the reason for this as this technology seems to be more based on learning and teaching the next generation to create technology. I could see how with more time, you could grow your skills at using the Arduino to develop my skills and eventually create my own pieces of technology.

On the other hand, with LittleBits, I found it much easier to engage with each piece of technology. The pieces are very intuitive and can be used together in a very simple way. There was a very easy learning curve to get to a level where I could be creative with the technology and create my own designs. Additionally, the ability to link the tech with online resources like 'Ifthisthenthat', the opportunities for development are extraordinary. Whilst playing around with the technology, we were able to make a set of lights which were activated through sounds.

However, unlike the Arduino kit, it does feel, at times, packaged like a toy, and I feel like it would be possible to hit a ceiling and run out of ways to innovate. the fact that this product is aimed at children does give it a feeling of not being too intuitive. however, it was certainly more fun to begin with.

Where Will the Technology Go?

The technology feels like it could easily be integrated into primary and secondary school education as a simple and safe way to teach children about electronics to form a basis for further education.

Additionally, there is room for the technology to get more complicated. Arduino recently made the leap from 8 bit to 32 bit. This means there is a great deal more potential for what the technology can do. In the near future, we may see the technology going even further, allowing for users to create a sort of small computer similar to the Raspberry Pi. This could open pathways to teach children about coding, and other ares of hardware, subjects which in my experience are not taught in schools due to the difficulty to make it engageable with children.

Additionally, the technology used in LittleBits can be used practically. For example, the synth kit referenced earlier has been used by artists like Reggie Watts, an unconventional musician/comedian.

What we are seeing here is the potential for this technology to allow people young and old to engage with new technologies and learn skills outside of electronics.

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