Category: Technical

Poly Seat no no

This is 3D Low Poly seat I modelled and have been trying to make, the idea was to have it hollow to accommodate a PC and VR gear, Vive HMD, controllers etc…but also strong enough for people to sit on.

I investigated getting it made via CNC cutting, but that seems to be more for intricate 2D designs.

Note to Self:

  • I investigated getting a mould done but this would be a crazy cost.
  • I may have to compromise now and do it another way if possible.

Thingys/ Industry 4.0

I signed up for a free Futurelearn IoT ‘The Internet of things’ online course at kings college London. I wanted to find out more about the IoT tech side, the networks, infrastructure, Smart cities etc…the course was really geared towards entrepreneurs intent on starting their own IoT company but there was some interesting opinions and ideas from future thinkers.

Over the last few months as I was investigating sites that allow you to visualise data. I came across one called Pachube (pronounced: Patch-Bay), a data infrastructure and community for the Internet of Things i.e the twitter of IoT was the utopian vision…unfortunately it was sold to another company Xively in 2013, to become a public cloud for the IoT. Needless to say it is no longer free, most IoT companies are now attempting to monetise things.

The founder of Pachube and person who impressed the most on the future Learn course was an architect turned Technologist called Usman Haque. He seems to have a utopian vision for IoT and has now another umbrella company in London called appropiately…Umbrellium. They design and build technological tools to support citizen empowerment and high impact engagement in cities.

Some of their Inititatives are diverse…Assemblance, a collaborative immersive environment…or Porthole, an augmented reality application that contextualises energy and environmental information by overlaying three-dimensional interactive real-time data visualisations directly on the camera view of a mobile phone….or Wearon a prototyping platform for wearable designers to connect their devices quickly and simply to a smartphone, to the web and to each other….

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which finally brings me to the wonderful Thingful a search engine for the Internet of Things, providing a unique geographical index of connected objects around the world.

Cardboard Reality

I finally got around to getting my hands on a Google Cardboard VR headset. Cardboard is a low-cost, easy-to-get virtual reality viewer that transforms a phone into a basic VR headset.

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Film Auteur Werner Herzog had been ranting on about VR [1],

“What reality is the cockroach at my feet in the kitchen experiencing? It is not my reality, we only share the same space.”

so I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Is Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality really a new 21st century art form? With not too much bother I assembled the Cardboard viewer, its a cheap alternative to the myriad of other viewers out there…HTC Vive VR headset, Durovis Dive, Homido, Samsung Gear VR, Carl Zeiss VR One, Cmoar, OSVR, Fibrum, HTC Vive, Sony Morpheus, Oculus Rift DK1 etc. The Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus (which is more game orienteted) looked the most promising to me.

Anyway back to my poor man’s version, the cardboard…I downloaded a few apps that looked interesting.

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First up was Bjorks Stonemilker, which was good, especially the way she seemed to jump out from her own body and into a new position…but I managed to ‘break it’ by trying to take a screenshot whilst it was playing, but this was interesting in itself as it threw up some code and ‘inner workings’ as to how it might be made. Stonemilker was directed by Andrew Thoamas Huang and produced by VRSE.com. They seem to be ahead of the pack in the VR game, Chris Milk is a former video artist who runs it.

The next x3 pieces I watched were all produced by VRSE, ‘Take Flight’, a marvellous short excursion into the heavens above New York City. ‘Evolution of Verse’ that takes you face to face with a foetus in the womb, quite amazing, and finally ‘Catatonic’ a creepy wheelchair ride through an insane asylum. All three were fairly amazing, you the viewer being immersed directly into their environment. Catatonic was the most unsettling, as when you swivel 360 degrees and look up directly at the orderly who is pushing you in the wheelchair right above you…you realise its not an orderly anymore!

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So how does film making for VR differ from traditional film making? some main points below;

  • You can’t frame a 360 shot
  • There are no cuts
  • Death of the Close-up?
  • The character can know you are there, and be right beside you
  • The main protagonist sacrilegiously cuts through the fourth wall, and makes a direct connection with you via eye contact
  • You must try and draw the viewers eyes to the different places they can look at and explore
  • Scale. Object sizes aren’t always in real-world ratios. Sometimes certain scale ratios are based on what feels right, rather than what would be mathematically correct
  • Focus on movement that matters, so that movements are computed in real time to adjust to the viewers perspective
  • Sound. Directional binaural sound
  • Don’t overload your rendering machines, Oculus headsets show images at 90 frames per second which is a huge computional burden. Reduce the load in a CG production, mathematical bounding boxes are calculated around objects, if the viewer isn’t look at something in particular, then it doesn’t render

The Cardboard was the best $10 I ever spent.

Note to Self:

  • Not sure how this impacts on my making, if at all, as the technology seems to be customised or else priced out of reach.
  • There is a great 360 degree camera called ‘Neo’ by a company by Jaunt, but they aren’t even for sale, they envisage leasing them out to interested parties in the future.

Eunoia – h20 manipulated with the mind

“Eunoia” is a performance that uses conceptual artists Lisa Parks brainwaves (collected via a NeuroSky EEG sensor) to manipulate the motions of water. It derives from the Greek word “eu” (well) + “nous” (mind) meaning “beautiful thinking”. Electroencephalography (EEG) is a brainwave detecting sensor. It measures frequencies of her brain activity (Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, Theta) relating to her state of consciousness while wearing it. The data collected from EEG is translated in realtime to modulate vibrations of sound with using software programs. EEG sends the information of my brain activity to Processing, which is linked with Max/MSP to receive data and generate sound from Reaktor.

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Park used the EEG headset to monitor the delta, theta, alpha, and beta waves of her brain as well as eye movements and transformed the resulting data with specialized software into sound waves. Five speakers are placed under shallow dishes of water which then vibrate in various patterns in accordance with her brain activity.

While the system is not an exact science, Park rehearsed for nearly a month by thinking about specific people whom she had strong emotional reactions to. The artist then correlated each of the five speakers with certain emotions: sadness, anger, hatred, desire, and happiness.

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Composer and experimental musician Alvin Lucier had a somewhat similar performance called Music for Solo Performer back in 1965.

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Blynk Digital Dashboard

It’s time to move any Arduino projects into the virtual realm, push on beyond the tinkering and start ‘making’ properly.

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Blynk is a Platform I came across, it works with iOS and Android apps to control Arduino, Raspberry Pi and the like over the Internet. It’s a digital dashboard where you can build a graphic interface for your project by simply dragging and dropping widgets.

I have set up a bog standard Arduino test sketch, a simple LED light being triggered by a button. The idea is to move it online via Blynk so the button becomes virtual on the Blynk app and therefore the LED gets triggered now via the virtual button and not the physical. You set up a project on the app and get sent an authorisation token code via email that is pasted into the Arduino sketch, re-upload the sketch in Arduino and Bob’s your Mothers brother, it should work.

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Of course getting the sketch to talk to the app isn’t as easy as it’s made out, and as is often the way with Arduino projects you need to get a new bit of kit and in this instance I need a ‘shield’ of some description to act as an interface between the mac and the app, the shield sits on top of the Arduino UNO board. After a bit of back and forth on their forums and reading some anguished posts from others being hit by similar problems (connection via USB seems to be problematic and it doesn’t help that theres a bug in the Blynk app for the recent iOS 9.02 update ) I decided to go with an Arduino Ethernet shield. I would prefer a WiFi shield but Arduino seem to have discontinued theirs! and the ethernet shield is half the price, it will do for now.

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A world of  visualised data and virtual control awaits.

The Fly-Away

I happened upon a recent article on Drones. Newer models will automatically return home when they have just 10% of battery power remaining, but there was a quote that caught my eye and fired my imagination…

“There is also whats known as the ‘fly-away’, where copters, literally, inexplicably disappear. The unit itself just does its own thing, It can be up at 60 metres and all of a sudden it would just head out to sea and you never see it again.”

This bizarre gremlin, the fly-away may be linked to solar flares, the same phenomenon that makes your car appear to drive in a field beside the road on sat-nav screens.

A solar flare occurs when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released. Radiation is emitted across virtually the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves at the long wavelength end, through optical emission to x-rays and gamma rays at the short wavelength end.

So every so often when this magnetic energy is released into the atmosphere it effects a drone, not many, just every now and again. The Drone disobeys the interface, the pilot’s joystick is ignored and it will simply fly away of its own volition. It does what it wants. This can be explained away by the magnetic energy, but I like to think there is an inherent flaw somewhere. That every so often a Drone has an innate urge to act upon the call of the Solar Flare, to ignore its predetermined machine nature, and like a bird migrating, it follows some invisible magnetic trail out across the ocean, knowing it will ultimately cause its own demise but nonetheless has to follow this compulsive solar signal that overrides all else.

I bought a cheap camera Drone to explore an idea based on the above.

Note to Self:

  • Drone: Sort batteries, experiment + see if camera footage quality is usable?

FaceOSC

An experiment to trigger and manipulate audio using the FaceOSC tool.

Pure data is used to route the audio file into any audio software, e.g. Ableton live or Garageband, then whilst moving the face (eyes, nose and mouth) the sound files can be manipulated.

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This is the same thing done via OSCulator.

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The audio source files are files I quickly put through a Korg kaoss pad and messed with.

Note to Self:

  • Revisit: This is an unfinished experiment which should have taken just 20 mins, I had x2 versions of it open, 1 in Pure Data and 1 in OSCulator, DUH! hence it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to.