Connected Worlds, Design I/O, and open Frameworks.

I love this stuff. What a great blend of technology, design, animation, and art. In a 3000 square foot space in the New York Hall of Science there is an immersive installation that allows children to directly interact with the space. Composed of six interactive ecosystems spread across the walls of the great hall, children are encouraged to use both physical items in the space as well as interact with the projected digital components. All of the surfaces are interactive and engaging.

Connected Worlds was designed to encourage children to think about sustainability and how all of these natural systems are interlinked, where local action on the environment may have global consequences later on. Children work with a fixed amount of water in the system and have to work together to manage and distribute the water across the different environments. Clouds return water from the environments to the waterfall which releases water to the floor when it rains.

Children can use physical logs to divert water flowing across the floor from the waterfall into the different environments, where they can then use their hands to plant seeds. As the different environments bloom, creatures appear based on the health of the environment and the type of plants growing in it. If multiple environments are healthy creatures will migrate between them causing interesting chain reactions of behaviors.

The immersive experience was built using  openFrameworks an open source creative coding toolkit. The project was conceived and developed by Design I/O with the New York Hall of Science by Emily Gobeille, Theo Watson and Nicholas Hardeman. Additional design and animation work was produced Josh Goodrich and game consultation by Zach Gage. Sound Design by MOST Original Soundtracks.

The first video below shows the space in action. The second video is the behind the scenes / making of video for those of you that want to geek out on how they pulled this off.


Snake the Planet. Interactive Projection Mapping.

Over the last 18 months there has been an explosion of projection mapping events for the launch of new products, service announcements, pure advertising, and integrated marketing campaigns. There have been so many, that they almost feel as though they have lost their excitement factor, and innovation. I think that is why I really like the “Snake The Planet” project from MPU.

MPU (Mobile Projection Unit) is a collective working on taking mobile interactive projections out into the urban landscape. The foundation of their work is to use urban architecture to generate and drive the interactive experience.

Working with C++ and Objective-C using OpenFrameworks MPU developed software that uses a live camera feed built on the OpenCV (computer vision) library. This was used to analyze building surfaces and surface distortions which were converted into 2D interpretations of architectural elements. These elements were then converted into game levels which could be played with a standard game controller. By scanning building facades and determining features such as windows, doors, pipes and signs the MPU system is able to feed these into projected imagery as interactive elements in the form of geometry, boundaries or obstacles.

The entire system currently runs on a laptop, with a camera and projector connected to it. All of the gear is being driven from a battery and inverter housed entirely within van they are using to drive around.