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GestureTek Inc.

October 26, 2006

Hi Everyone,

This blog is in reference to a recent trip to GestureTek Inc. in Toronto, Ontario, Canada through the Interactive Multimedia program at Sheridan College. As noted on their website at http://www.gesturetek.com/groundfx/press/press_ts2.php “GestureTek Inc.™, a leading edge company who owns the patent on computer human interfacing through video cameras, created GroundFX by applying their video analysis to floor projection. Their ability to track people’s movements and actions allows GroundFX™ multimedia content to be controlled and manipulated by simply stepping up to and onto the projection.”

At GestureTek we were introduced to a variety of fascinating materials that allowed the user to physically engage with their environment. As outlined above, by stepping on an image that was projected on the floor we were able to alter the image that was set at our feet. This is the first time I’ve encountered such a process and proved to be an interesting event. There were a variety of images that were displayed and that altered in some way. I suppose the one that stood out most for me was ‘The Home Depot’. The image that was projected displayed wood chips lying seemingly still on the floor. It was only until I conferred with others that I found out that it was indeed actually wood chips that were placed there, initially, I thought it was a picture of brownish leaves. Perhaps, because it is currently fall and I generally like fall, I found myself attracted to this one in particular, but I think the fact that they were wood chips doesn’t take anything away from the impact that it had upon me. As the participant walked along or through the projected image the chips scattered to the side as if being blown by a cool wind and thus revealed an underlying image of the Home Depot’s logo. I think because it was such a common occurrence and done so subtly that it stood out as the most effective to me. It was a great way of portraying something common, making it interactive and situating one in a new environment and generating a new experience that it championed my interest.

Others were, of course, very effective, such as the air hockey and the water image that rippled. I also enjoyed the spider projection. This projected a multitude of spiders on the ground, but instead of scattering when a person walked along the projection, they actually ran towards and huddled around the participant. This definitely gives a contrary reaction because for the most part, people wouldn’t appreciate being smothered in spiders, unless of course you put a monetary value on it and implement it into a game show called something like ‘Fear factor’. Regardless, it was very interesting and definitely garnered a different emotive response.

Something that I thought was lacking though, maybe it would be too complex of a function, was the ability for the objects to move more throughout the space three dimensionally. For example, the Coke cans could be kicked and shuttled across the projected landscape, but it would have been interesting to see them decrease in size and increase again, while rotating as if you were kicking them down into some abyss, only to be drawn back up again. That would have been interesting, but again, I’m not sure how feasible it is.

As far as the other technology went, it was all very interesting and foreshadows how these types of environments can and will likely exist in our daily environments in a more common way. There was an area with a green screen background that allowed people to interact in another environment and this was then displayed on a monitor. The person or persons had a camera capturing real time footage of them and then this footage was displayed on a monitor, which was about five feet in front of them. One of the environments was a soccer field and the person acted as a goalie, while soccer balls were catapulted at them and into the net. The object of the game was to stop as many balls as possible and upon completion of this interaction the camera took a still photo of the person and listed them amongst previous contenders with their score. This game was a great example of real time interactivity and engaged the participant in a seemingly realistic way.

GestureTek is a unique environment where one can interact with objects and environments in a way that eludes to how things may one day be common place and it displays how technology can impact our current and future lives.

 

 

Jeff Tallon

 

 

Some sites that deal with Gesture Technology:

 

http://ad.informatik.uni-freiburg.de/centrep/data/files/preambles_series4.pdf#search=%22Gesture%20Interactivity%22

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/08/23/eveningnews/main792311.shtml

 

http://www.brainfire.co.uk/blog/2004/10/gesture_technology.php

 

http://www.industrial-embedded.com/articles/id/?17

 

 

http://www.gesturetek.com/groundfx/press/press_may24.php

 

http://www.hitl.washington.edu/projects/multimodal/GestureGRASP.html

 

 

 

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