This ‘smart space’ helps look at a world without devices. The concept of the work was to create an interactive, augmented experience without a device-based equipment. The environment senses a plastic sheet and projects personalised messages onto it whilst you move around the space. The image on the wall has a variety of games that allow you to interact with the technology. I can only imagine that its very freeing to have this interaction with technology, without holding a device. Probably as freeing as the Nintendo Wii’s first release.
Considering my interest in VR, AR and now MR (Mixed Reality), its good to see concepts around digital-physical augmented space without the use of devices. Perhaps this is a better progression from anti-social personal computing to open source sensor based environments. Or maybe a mix between the two? Who knows!
Photos, Articles and Video link below……
NO_THING – An infrared light framework that turns (almost) anything into a device
“We get to do a lot of thinking about the future of interaction,” says Milla & Partner’s Ingo Wörner, who together with Fabian Fuchs spearheaded NO_THING’s in-house development. Having realized award-winning exhibitions, show rooms, and trade shows, their team knows the limitations of the current generation of smart spaces all too well. “We were frustrated with solutions available to us at the time. While the arrival of audio guides, VR, AR or tablets has dramatically improved how contextual information can be accessed within a space, they create largely solitary, device-driven experiences; devices that have to be lugged around and that distract as much as they reveal,” says Ingo. Another problem is technology itself: devices age quickly (particularly when they go through many hands), require maintenance, and updates. With NO_THING, Ingo and Fabian tried to get rid of the technology altogether (they describe the experience as “close to NO_TECH”) by taking full control of the environment. “We wanted to create a smart space that is aware of my presence and that provides relevant information when and where I need it, without me having to carry around any equipment, punch in numbers or navigate a screen. To achieve that we use nothing but light — visible and invisible.”
To project onto a moving target, which is what NO_THING does at its core, the team first built prototypes with Kinect systems, openFrameworks, ARToolKit and OpenCV. To increase tracking precision, stability and overall performance across different light settings, NO_THING now uses IR (infrared) light, OptiTrack motion capture cameras (with in-camera blob tracking) and IR-reflecting foil for the markers. The tracking data can be accessed via a Node.js-based andSocket.IO-connected tracking server and allows a wide range of interactions – from tilting, rotation, and gestures, to movements and accessing pre-defined hotspots. The 3d projection mapping onto the tracked cardboard ‘devices’ is done in Pandoras Box (a commercial media and show control system) using a webkit layer as texture. The advantage of the latter: all content and interaction can be built and delivered with standard web technology.
A ‘holodeck’ degree of freedom demands a lot of the tracking and projection. NO_THING currently performs at an impressive 60 frames per second (a latency of 3 to 4 frames is largely intentional to ensure a stable image) and with a ‘device’ angle of up to 80 degrees. Additional sensors on the device would increase the tracking precision even further.
“Given the trend towards miniaturization and mobility of projection technology and seamless connectivity there’s an infinite potential for meaningful mixed-reality applications,” says Fabian about NO_THING’s future. From deploying the next generation display and lighting technology (miniature LEDs, lasers) to interfacing with ‘always on’ devices to the prospects of taking NO_THING outside of “controlled environments” and to the street — “It is as if the future has met us halfway.”
For now, the project’s biggest feat remains the manifestation of the interface. “The surprise transformation of a simple piece of cardboard without any electronics into an interactive device is magical. It gets me every time and personally, it’s what I appreciate the most,” says Fabian. “And while the commercial applications, as evidenced by our Expo 2015 use case, are myriad, I’d really like to see an artistic take on it, maybe as part of an installation or performance.” So do we.
NO_THING’s Expo Milano 2015 setup was developed together with Jan Hüwel of coolux (producers of Pandoras Box).
VR headsets are poised to take on the commercial technology market in the coming year, however their true application could be in the hands of designers and architects, as this BBC news article shows. Giving warship designers the ability to see and travel through their latest designs, is essential in an industry that has to make the most of its money.
BBC Article: “Virtual Reality aids BAE Warship Design:”
“Virtual reality technology is being used in the construction of Royal Navy warships in a bid to build them more cheaply and efficiently.
BAE Systems hopes the technology system will become a fundamental part of the engineering process.
“Visualisation technology is transforming the way we design, build and deliver complex warships,” said Mick Ord, managing director at BAE Systems’ Naval Ships business.
“By creating a virtual prototype, we can mature and optimise a ship’s design and gain a real understanding of the vessel and the experience of those serving on board before manufacturing begins.”
The system has been installed in three sites – Glasgow, Portsmouth and Bristol.
Visualisation suites with huge screens allow engineers, equipped with special glasses and a controller, to walk around the computer-generated ships and inspect the innards of the vessels to see whether there are any potential issues with the design.
Howard Wheeldon, an independent defence analyst said that the system had a lot of benefits.
“There are a lot of people involved in ship design so to be able to do it this way is absolutely brilliant and should be the way forward in other areas of engineering,” he said.
Engineers at BAE Systems, the firm contracted to build vessels, are creating virtual versions that can then be examined in detail before any actual steel is cut.
Previously engineers had relied on wood or cardboard mock-ups of ships.
The system is currently being used to develop three offshore patrol vessels.”
The video below is from another BBC news article from a little over a year ago. It shows a similar technology used to map the leaning tower of Pisa. Jump to 2:02 to see the user interacting with an entirely digital impression of the tower. Using projectors and controllers, he is able to move through an environment made up of different data points. The contraption used to measure the space jumps around almost like an out-of-control garden hose, but the final impression of the building, and the way the user interacts with it, is a very exciting prospect.
This sort of technology used in a visual art context could help to create more intuitive and immersive installations, films, sculptures, artworks etc. I’m especially interested in the ability to create real-life size buildings and sculptures within virtual space. This is a technology i aim to get my hands on sooner or later….