Bubbloo interactive floor display

Bubbloo is an interactive display at the Denver Art Museum. They appear to be embracing a more interactive approach to displaying some of their art and information. One of their displays, shown above, features a pair of projection systems working together to make a game. As you pop the bubbles, the artwork is displayed. You can see it definitely helps keep the kids amused.

While the technology used isn’t exactly new, its a good example of how effective interactive displays can be. Even if they are just there to distract the kids so the parents can look at art.

The floor projection systems don’t seem as though they would be that difficult to make. We’ve seen interactive projection displays using Wiimotes made in peoples homes, but what about one of these? How would you handle the input without an accessory like a light pen or reflective tape? The Wisdom Well uses Frustrated Total Internal Reflection and rear projection. Reactrix, a manufacturer of these systems uses infrared sensors as well as some kind of floor sensor. [Lawrence Lau] has made one, but didn’t post any information. If you make one and let us know.


  1. JayPetey says:

    Ok, I’m very noob here in the “hacking” world… but… You can project light, which goes to say you can project IR light as well, right? Well isn’t that how most touch screens work… you pretty much saturate a surface with IR light, then have and IR reader of some sort (e.g. webcam) picks up when the saturation of the IR light is altered. So… if you were to project IR light along with an image, could you then use a IR reader to interpret when there is a fluctuation? Say when the child steps on the bubble? I might be totally off the wall here, and it seems that it might be too large an environment to pick up a small change like that… but if anyone can confirm this idea, you could use it to turn any projected image into a touch surface without the use of a IR pen or whatever. Especially with as easy as it is to build your own projector…

  2. Ian Calvert says:

    An easy way would be to simply have a camera above. Cut out the background (since that’s static it’s quite easy) & the blue channel, and the changes left are the people. If they intersect with where the circles should be then pop them.

    Angled cameras could look at the blob shape of the person and take the lowest 2 points as the contact points (feet).

    False positives & negatives aren’t really that important :)

  3. Bruce Wyman says:

    You’re right, Bubbloo isn’t all that incredibly hard and it’s really a bit of a hack although there are a couple of tricky bits in the installation. (I’m one of the two people that did the work.) There’s a bit more of an extensive walkthrough of the experience at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oazovjbimo.

    We’ve broken down the experience into a few different problems — vision, bubbles, wall display of artwork. The vision is just doing some blob detection via some background differencing. The hard part was using a lower end infrared camera with a fisheye lens and correcting for the distortion. The vision system then passes along areas of known blobs (people) to the bubble display which determines if a blob is intersecting the known location of a bubble. The hard bit with the bubbles was making use of a game engine for the physics and collision detection of the bubbles (they know to avoid each other and the edges of the space. the boundaries are also totally configurable so we can change the environment. When a blob intersects a bubble, we flip over geometric tiles on the wall to reveal artwork from the collection.

    The whole point of the space was really to have a non-gallery, not-quiet environment as a balance to the more traditional parts of the museum. Here, it’s okay to run around and have a bit of fun (less common in the galleries although not explicitly frowned upon).

    The nice part in all of this is that we did it at a substantially lower price point than any commercially available solution (we’d talked to the folks at reactrix early on) and entirely with in-house talent.

    We’ve been lucky to do some other things as well — most recently a set of multi-touch tables making use FTIR. More detail available at http://blogs.denverartmuseum.org/technology/projects/multitouch/

  4. Ian Calvert says:

    Thanks for the info, I’ve been looking for some hardware projects, and a multitouch table is definitely one of them :)

    I’d love to come and see the installations, unfortunately I’m not in the right country, hehe.

  5. Webtattoo says:

    Thanks for the good info. I know this blog is old, however I’m very interested in building an interactive floor display………but don’t know how to get hold of the hardware, like the camera that reads the floor display ? Is there a blueprint to this technology listing types of correct equipment.
    Would really like to build one of these or interactivce table top!

    Thanks in advance !

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