Interactions A look at 3 tecnologies.


Projection is a tool that has been in use since the late 1800's. With the invention of Photography, people wanted to find a way to display it onto a huge frame. Mere picture frames no bigger than 18cm x 13cm.

The 'Théâtre Optique' aka the Praxinoscope, used to project moving image.

Today, digital projection has evolved into a digital tool that can be used intertextually across multiple technologies. Its main use today is mainly for interactive presentations for classrooms or for business presentations, or for performing arts performances.

Getting in to digital mapping with the tools we were provided with: Optoma Projection Mapper and the HeavyM desktop tool.

Projection with Optoma Projection Mapper.

Optoma Projection Mapper is an app that can be purchased on mobile devices for £3.99 on the App Store on Apple devices. You can project images with the use of a laptop, a USB cable and the program installed. You then can connect it to a projector

The program on the app store.
Examples of patterns a user could put in their digital map designs.
Here it is implemented in the app.

The app is a must-have for anyone interested in projection and digital mapping with its ease to use and portability. The computer program however requires that it be hooked up to a digital projector. The UI is also confusing and you are unable to see your design unless you use it with the digital projector.

However, this site does provide a user with tutorials if they so choose to seek them out. They provide tutorials on how to use the tools, how to hook up the projector with the program and how to add media etc along with different techniques a user could use as part of their projection project. Although simply being thrown into the software with little-no idea how to use it gave me a hard time trying to make something. They need an in-program tutorial.

Experimenting with HeavyM.

With digital mapping, there is so much opportunity to make it more interactive beyond entertainment purposes. For instance, in the Disney film, Treasure Planet, the main focus of the story is on this golden globe known as 'the map' and this map, when unlocked, produces projection that can be directly interacted with through touch. It can also be used in an educational environment. We already use digital projectors in classrooms, but they are not being used to the fullest of their potential. The projectors themselves are narrow and target a specific point in the classroom and with that, a lack of learning material that can be used with the power of digital projection. There also needs to be more development in being able to fully interact with digital projection. One example of this can be traced back to more sci-fi material, such as holograms. In the Star Wars Universe, one way of communicating with other are with holograms that visually project a person.

The famous "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi" scene from tar Wars: IV A New Hope. R2D2 Projects an image of Princess Leia.

Skip to 0:35 seconds.

Overall, it is hard to fully engage with digital mapping if it is not what a user would want to do and I had little interest in Digital Mapping. It is also clear that users are not limited to just these two programs. I could have made my own light-show using Adobe After Effects and it would have been easier. I would not have had restrictions on the features I could use and the UI is more specialised allowing me to manipulate assets how I see fit. Although an advantage that these apps have over After Effects is that I can project in real time how I edit the project. I found both of the programs difficult to use and I could tell if the program was genuinely broken, or I was not doing anything right at all the first time I used it.

Real-time experimenting and projection.

Virtual Enviornments

In 1995, with the release of the games console 'The Virtual Boy' by Nintendo, there has been a technological arms race to develop a product that could fully immerse a user in a virtual world unlike our own. But technology was primitive and products like 'The Virtual Boy' or knock-off consoles like 'The R-Zone' by TIGER caused nausea and eye strain. Both consoles were received poorly and 'The Virtual Boy' only had released one year before it was cancelled in March 2, 1996.

The Virtual Boy

However in recent years, digital technology has evolved in a short span of time due to the rise in popularity of video games since the release of consoles such as the Nintendo 64 or the Playstation 1 releasing games capable of running 3D graphics. However, it would not be further implemented until the early 2010's with the early development kits of the Oculus Rift which were mainly used for recreational gaming purposes.

With VR technology, a user can combine the potential VR with other mediums, such as the previous YouTube link of American talk-show host Conan O'Brien utilising VR labs in a studio environment and being able to broadcast the environment he is also in and audiences can see him interacting with the world from a different perspective other than first person.

This technology has so much potential. It can be used for artistic purposes it has a simple user interface design that can have a user quickly choose how to utilise their environment.

The user choosing a brush.
The user clearing the sketch to create a new 'canvas'
The brush tool used to create a sculprutre

Recently, the console market has entered the world of VR on the level of what the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are doing right now, and Sony has released the 'PlayStation VR' and has been sold at a cheaper price. Where the Oculus Rift costing £500 and the HTC Vive costing £700, the PlayStation VR only costs £300, the price of a normal console. The product itself has received an overwhelming critical reception; gaining a 10/10 rating on Trusted Reviews.

This technology has also been used as part of a gimmick for the adult entertainment industry, and now mainstream adult websites and companies are catering to this narrow demographic.

In the case of film technology, studios can now create different environments with the click of a button, and this technology would allow set/prop designers to go into this environment and manipulate the world without the constraints of only being able to interact through a computer with a keyboard, mouse and a graphics tablet. This is also a wired technology, so nothing complex such as practicing hand-to-hand can be accomplished yet, but when VR becomes a wireless technology, people may be able to practice certain sports. It can be used for artistic purposes such as scultping, complex painting or even as a method of fashion design. They can add more cloth material brushes to the program such as frills, wool, silk etc and to come in many colours.

My personal experience with vitrual reality enviornment has been fully immersive. I can definitely see the appeal in wanting to expand the technology to what is seen in sci-fi films, but until those limitations of mainly wiring and having to use these technologies in small spaces with multiple people are eliminated, I cannot fully immerse myself without fear of hurting someone or breaking the equipment.

Connecting Two Worlds - Interactivity

With this technology, I looked at two main products. These were the 'Little Bits' which allows the user to learn and build their own electronics with multiple electronics packs being released by Little Bits.

Little Bits did not need to come with a set of instructions as the goal of LittleBits was to experiment and see what does and does not work. For instance, there is a specific order that individual parts must be stuck together in order to function.

First you need the power (blue pieces) , then the pulse or switches (pink) and then the output function (green). You can also add a wire or an extension piece (orange)

Some of the parts I found were interesting as they seemed to serve a functional purpose. For instance, one trigger can turn on by the lack of light and this could be used with a noise output which could make for a great makeshift alarm if someone steps uninvitedly into your home. It can also be used as a toy as there is an expansion pack that comes with tires and a user can build a toy-car.

The car.

Whilst this product may be great for learning, each LittleBits kit is expensive. Looking at the shop on their website, most kits are from $99 - $250. The cheapest one I saw was a 'Hardware Development Kit'. Although I do not think that the intended purpose of LittleBits was not to be used in the home, but in the classroom; as they have pages dedicated specifically to educators, and even recommend certain products to educators.

The 'Big Kits' available to purchase
The cheapest products on LittleBits

The second product we looked at was the SparkFun RedBoard this one was cheaper, at $89.95 and can be connected to a computer. However it is more intricate and complicated to use, requiring an instruction manual to use it. You also have to put together the board.

An explanation of the purpose of the SparkFun RedBoard
The first circuit.

I put together my first circuitboard by following the precise instructions.

The parts that come with the kit.

However, I had difficulty in getting the circuit to function. It was clear that it worked as the LED light lit up as I connected the USB port to the computer

The Led turning on as I connected it to the computer

I followed the instructions on the computer by downloading the program and trying to activate the board by running the program, but the program said it failed in doing so.

The result after I tried to run the circuit.

So it is clear that this program is not as functional as the LittleBits and not as reliable. Therefore, it has failed as a product. I can see both of these products being used for practical real life problems such as providing makeshift power or light. For instance, with the Little Bits, they use batterypower, however the power can be replaced with a renewable energy source such as light or windpower and can have replacable outputs such as ones for providing light, or as a portable fan, which is one of the outputs for one of the Little Bits kits.

The fan output.
SparkFun diagram showing how their products can be used outside of educational use and into practical use.

Overall, I was disappointed with the SparkFun RedBoard. I felt like I was working towards getting something out of it, unlike with the LittleBits, but it did not work and that made the effort all for nothing.

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