Interactivity Experiments

For a few months now I’ve been watching utterly compelling and inspirational HCI things like these:

I know most of them are a bit dated now, in fact from as far back as 2006, but they’re still jaw-droppingly awesome.

So in a fit of inspiration and weekend project madness and frustration at the clumsiness of a regular touch-screen LCD I’ve been picking up things from Ebay and fishing around in my boxes of knackered electronics to find components suitable for assembling one or two of these sorts of devices.

There are two types of these interactive interfaces – the JCL-style wiimote-based ones which use bright sources of infrared, either transmitted or reflected and the bluetooth Nintendo controller; and the second is the Jeff Han / Perceptive Pixel -style of frustrated total internal reflection or FTIR where infrared is reflected out of a planar surface and is picked up by a camera similar to the one in the wiimote.

Anyway, costs so far:

Wiimote: ~£28; old infrared remote control for filters & LEDs: free;

Philips bSure XG2 projector: ~£180; Philips SPC900NC: ~£30; 4.3mm CCTV lens (no IR filter): ~$12

I’ve been having trouble making the bluetooth pairing for the wiimote work correctly under OSX 10.3.9 – I think it’s about time I had the laptop upgraded – it’s work’s after all. I think that should fix it for OSX, but I have had some success – this evening under Ubuntu with the Bluez stack and libwiimote I’ve been able to capture events from the wiimote including spots using the IR camera. I’ve also been successful using camstream with the SPC900NC and CCTV lens to capture spots from working TV remotes, both directly and reflected from a wall – it’s surprisingly effective!

More to come – next with the wiimote interface I need to build my whiteboard-marker battery-driven IR LED pen. Next with the FTIR display I need to experiment with a few different types of perspex and rear-reflection material. I *really* want to be able to perform pattern recognition similar to the reactable and I don’t think tracing paper will work for rear-projection. Knowing next to nothing about plastics technology I think I’d like to try frosted acrylic first, or maybe just finely-sanded regular acrylic. Ebay here I come again!