Hardware for Camera-Projector SystemsMarch 20

Since I receive frequent requests for recommending suitable hardware for camera-projection systems, I recently updated the reacTIVision homepage with a list of cameras and projectors with a good price-performance ratio as well as some suitable 850nm IR illuminators and bandpass filters. Nowadays we can get affordable cameras with specifications that are close to industrial computer-vision equipment, that combine high resolution and sensor quality with a quite interactive frame rate ranging from 640×480@120Hz and 1280×720@60Hz up to 1920×1080@30Hz.

TUIO 1.1 – the return of the living dead part #2November 6

In preparation for the upcoming ITS TUIO Hackathon I just released an extensive TUIO code refresh to Github: This includes a brushed up TUIO 1.1 server/client for C++ as well as the TUIO 1.1 client reference implementations for JAVA and .NET. The according Processing, Max/MSP and PureData clients are available as binary releases. These new libraries are now also licensed under the less restrictive LGPL. While the provided source code and binary clients are reasonably stable, you may still find plenty of bugs and some copy/paste oddities in the code. You can now easily contribute to the further development of these TUIO libraries by submitting your fixes on Github!

reacTIVision – the return of the living dead part #1October 22

After an extended time of inactivity there is finally a new reacTIVision 1.5 release available! While I initially only planned some minor updates in order to recompile on more recent systems, this eventually resulted in a major infrastructure update that primarily provides improved camera support and configuration options on all platforms as well as some internal tweaks that improve the overall performance. This includes a multi-threaded thresholder, an accelerated background subtractor as well as a quicker and less tedious calibration procedure. Apart from that this release does not yet include any changes to the core fiducial and finger tracking, which will be part of a future 1.6 release …

The source code and binaries for all supported platforms along with a comprehensive changelog are available on Github

Open Design SymposiumApril 30

Our Open Design Symposium will take place on Wednesday May 23rd 2012 at the Auditorium of the University of Art and Design in Linz, Austria. If you plan to attend this event, which will be held entirely in English language, please make sure to register for FREE on the symposium web site.

David Cuartielles (ES/SE) – Open Hardware
Cecilia Palmer (SE/DE) – Open Fashion
Ronen Kadushin (IL/DE) – Open Product
Peter Kirn (US/DE) – Open Sound
Julian Oliver (NZ/DE) – Open Art
Greg Saul (NZ/UK) – Open Innovation
Addie Wagenknecht (US/AT) – Open Tools
Gerin Trautenberger (AT) – Open Economy

This symposium intends to discuss the Open Design practice from various perspectives, such as art, design, engineering, education, society and economy. An international selection of expert speakers will provide an insight into the state of the art and future directions of an emerging field, which holds countless opportunities for regional development and worldwide distribution based on the principles of collaboration and shared knowledge.

The event is curated by Univ.Prof Martin Kaltenbrunner and Dr. Georg Russegger and organized by the University of Art and Design Linz in collaboration with the CREATIVE REGION Linz and Upper Austria GmbH.

Tworse Key – Twitter TelegraphFebruary 7

The Tworse Key is an Open Design exercise in interface archaeology that decodes the input from a classic telegraph key to send Twitter messages composed in Morse code.

Telegraphy is the short messaging service from the 19th century, the Morse code and the Telegraph as the according input device have become long obsolete since. Today instead we are using services such as SMS and Twitter for the delivery of our short messages, which are usually sent from mobile devices on every occasion in our daily lives. The idea to connect the antique interface of the Morse key with the contemporary Twitter service intends to reestablish an obsolete cultural technique within the current practice. The limited input possibilities of the Telegraph may also allow us to reflect upon the actual content of our messages, before broadcasting any arbitrary activity.

The design of the device loosely resembles the aesthetics of the 19th century, which is commonly referred as Steampunk in popular culture. The Tworse Key itself consists of an old brass telegraph, which basically just represents an ordinary switch mounted on a wooden box. This old technology is internally connected to a common Arduino Ethernet microcontroller board, which decodes the messages typed in Morse code and delivers them directly to the Twitter service through its built-net network connection. The Tworse Key is completely stand-alone and connects to any standard Ethernet network.

This project is fully documented in order to illustrate the Open Design process for beginners, who are aiming to study and realize a simple but yet appealing open artwork. The source code, hardware schematics and building instructions of this very elementary circuit are available under the according free licenses.

Tangible Music @ TEDxViennaOctober 24

On October 22nd I had the opportunity to talk at the TEDxVienna conference, where I presented the basic concepts of Tangible Musical Interfaces that led us to the development of the Reactable. This included a brief introduction into the design history of acoustic and electronic musical instruments and the problem of controlling complex synthesizers with standard tools. Our solution employs the ideas of tangible interfaces in order to realize an instrument that combines physical interaction with auditory and visual feedback. The talk concludes with a brief description of the Reactable itself and our contribution to the design of tangible interactive surfaces.

During the conference we also had the opportunity to organize a small showcase, where in addition to the Reactable two works from our latest Interface Culture exhibition were presented. The exhibited works were FMR1 by Fabrizio Lamoncha, Ioan Cernei & Maša Jazbec as well as the GearBox by Ulrich Brandstätter & Oliver Buchtala

New York – New YorkSeptember 26

In September I had an extended trip to New York, following an invitation by the Austrian Cultural Forum to talk and perform with the Reactable at the Moving Sounds Festival. After an initial podium discussion on improvisation in music together with George Lewis amongst others, I finally met Peter Kirn for our joint concert playing on the Reactable together with mobile instruments such as the CrackleBox and the MeeBlip synthesizer. Peter later also organized an online workshop at the Dubspot DJ school, where we talked more in detail about our instruments in front of an expert audience.

Before the actual festival started I had the chance to attend the Open Hardware Summit and Maker Faire which were by lucky coincidence taking place at the New York Hall of Science during my visit. Also on Monday my colleague Sabine Seymour invited me to give a guest lecture at the Parsons School for Design. During that busy week I am glad that I also managed to visit the abundant Talk to Me exhibition at the MoMA.

dead pixel artJune 25

Urban Screensaver Example To be honest I have been an initial admirer of interactive media facades ever since I got aware of Blinkenlights and the Clickscape projects. During the last decade the topic has become mainstream though, leading to the construction of media facades in many “second cities” around the world aiming to catch up with the information age. There now even exists an European Media Facade Festival, dedicated to the production of actual artistic content for the usually commercially used large scale displays, but most of the proposals hardly exceed the aesthetics of screen savers and iTunes sound visualizations. Although the topic still seems to be extremely attractive amongst young media artists, it has become time to take action against the inflationary installation of urban screen savers!

Electromagnetic Pulse Gun Dead pixel art is a new form of digital reverse graffiti, which allows the appropriation of urban displays through the active disabling of selected pixels. For this purpose I am planning to employ a directed high-energy EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) gun, which temporarily or permanently disrupts the electronic circuitry of an individual pixel element when pointing at it. This will allow the drawing of permanently visible black voids within any displayed animation, leading eventually to the complete destruction of the whole display.

A similar approach using different techniques can also be applied to CRT or LCD screens through the destruction of selected pixels, resulting in the permanent display of the applied dead pixel art. While this may be mostly interesting for information guerilla in a public screen context, such as ATM machines or info terminals, it can also be used for the personalization of individual devices.

TuioPad for iOS available on the AppStoreFebruary 22

The TuioPad is an open source TUIO tracker for iOS devices such as the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, which allows multi-touch remote control based on the TUIO protocol. This application is available free of charge on the App Store and can be used in conjunction with any TUIO enabled client application. Its source code is also available under the terms of the GPL and therefore can be freely used for the creation of open source TUIO enabled mobile applications. Apart from that the TuioPad is also a useful tool for the development and testing of TUIO 1.1 client implementations.

This application is based on OpenFrameworks and has been created by Mehmet Akten and Martin Kaltenbrunner. The included C++ TUIO reference implementation is using the oscpack library by Ross Bencina.

TuioKinect: TUIO hand tracker for KinectNovember 27

I just released a proof-of-concept TUIO hand gesture tracker for the popular Microsoft Kinect controller. This allows the rapid creation of gesture enabled applications with any platform or environment that supports the TUIO protocol. The application still needs several improvements to become fully usable. Nevertheless it should work out of the box with most TUIO client applications. Most of the code is based on OpenFrameworks and its ofxKinect example, which is integrating libfreenect by the OpenKinect project.

You can download the application source code and a binary for Mac OS X 10.6 (Intel) from its Google code project page. Any suggestions for improvements or specific features are welcome!

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