Monday, February 11, 2008

Pixelate - applied Reflexive Tile script

This work is the result of a research project conducted at the Graduate School of Design in collaboration with Dido Tsigaridi. Our research produced a 360 degree rotating mirror platform utilizing Shape Memory Alloy metals set into a particular counterbalanced formation. The idea was to create a field of mirrors (sensor enabled) to respond to human presence and movement. The bottom of this post describes the proposed (Dec. 2005) responsive surface in more detail.

While this project has remained dormant, I have been trying to visualize the dynamics of the surface (presumed to be a wave-like motion) for some time. The construction of the rotating mirror platform was meant to demonstrate the movement of a single modular unit. Up until this point, the most I could do to visualize a full scale ripple effect was to model it through standard 3D programs and at best, produce an animation of that movement. Recent innovations to the Second Life platform (and more specifically the development of the 'reflexive tile script' by Oze Aichi), have now provided the ability to study the effect of avatar/human proximity real-time on the individual and overall tile movement response.

While this method is used only to simulate the idealized movement of the prototype wall tiles, it remains an demonstrative way to study the dynamics of distributed responsive form. This idealized representation of the surface movement (which is not quite as fast in its physical form) presents the opportunity to observe unforseen patterns in behavior of the elements as well as the behavior of those individuals participating. This study in particular focuses on the movement and patterning of the surface which is why we don't see representation of the supporting structure and electronics. This is partly for clarity's sake and partly to reflect the virtual nature of the form (and the open possibilities that this engenders).

The following video is the result of brief experimentation with the script (Reflexive Tile) provided by Oze Aichi at The Tech Museum via The Arch by Keystone Bouchard. In this trial I reduced the scale of the tile and set a static, reflective texture to match the surrounding steel. This combination produced some interesting and unpredictable patterns as the avater engages the surface. While the original design calls for mirrors, I turned up the reflectivity of each prim to compensate. Here is a video demonstration of the resulting surface movement.

VIDEO (Hi-res version also found at YouTube link here).

The SMA Responsive Surface
Research project in collaboration with Dido Tsigaridi at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The surface deforms and reflects based upon human presence and movement along its surface. Each device senses and moves individually based upon a simple proximity sensor feedback loop.

The mirror remains stable and reflects the surrounding environment until approached by a pedestrian. The mirror then rotates its angle toward the pedestrian dependent upon their proximity to it. At its closest proximity, the mirror then resets to its stationary position until the user begins to move away. The result is a pedestrian which can see their own image undistorted while onlookers see a refracted and shifting image of the pedestrian. The surface becomes a statement about how we see ourselves in relation to how others perceive us in an observational context.

Initial testing and experimentation for the kinetic mirror produced a 360 degree rotating and adjustable platform operating on a standard 9 volt battery. The use of SMA greatly reduces the need for moving mechanical actuators or servos decreasing energy use and minimizing potential for wear or damage. You can find the video of the functioning platform here, and a link to the project page on my website here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Archidemo - Potential of the 2D Image within Virtual Space

I took a moment to visit an interesting variety of builds representing the work of Hidenori Watanave and the Archidemo group located on the NikkeiBP+NikkeiBP way sim. I discovered the group and sim location through a post on Networked Performance. The island's work is clearly experimental but it is interesting to see what people have come up with to date. While some works were a bit confusing, I think this was more the result of project overlap and crowding than the clarity of the builds themselves. I was able to recognize some responsive elements such as proximity and tracking scripts, and most were utilized in a fairly straighforward manner. Still, it's worth the visit as this group seem to take a different approach than most of the other sims I have had the opportunity to visit. Here is a brief (rough) clip I made on one of the more compelling projects.

The build consists of panoramic 2D still images which collide and ricochet within a surrounding panoramic image (also a 2D still). As the avatar navigates within the surrounding space they have the ability to touch a central portion of the floor within one of the individual floating spaces. Touching the floor situates the avatar within that particular room which provides the opportunity to examine the entirety of the RL panoramic image. This seems to invoke the concept of 'compound space' as the visitor has the ability to essentialy 'jump' between physical (although static) locations through the medium of virtual space.

As the virtual has enabled communication between physical spaces for quite some time, this build becomes an interesting metaphor for the spatial/informational relationships between (physical <--> physical) and (physical <--> virtual) spaces. While this project is more a study of the possibilities of the 2D image within virtual space, a natural next step for this build might be to incorporate live video feeds into the RL spatial pockets (for example 360 degree panoramic room cameras that are directly manipulated by the avater inhabiting that particular spatial pocket). This might result in a powerful new way to experience physical spaces through Second Life and other related virtual media.