Floppy disk augmented reality is a head-scratcher

[Iain Gildea] tipped us off about a drill-powered coffee grinder he made but it was the floppy-disc augmented reality display a few paragraphs down that caught our attention. He’s taken 36 white floppy discs, sprayed one side black, then mounted them each with a center pivot into a 6×6 grid. Through a convoluted system of pulleys and servo motors the display can be manipulated to produce augmented reality markers. After the break you can see the display itself, then the result of viewing it through a webcam.

We’re amused, but also scratching our heads. There must be an easier way, such as a light-up grid covered in dark plexi or something along those lines. But then again, it’s his hack and he can do what he wants… and he seems to have a thing for floppies.

The physical display being tested.

The augmented view through a webcam.


  1. xorpunk says:

    Nice! very impractical and over-produced. Perfection

  2. Anon says:

    When I saw the first 3D model without reading the description, I flipped my shit. At first I was like “HOLT SHIT! HOW DID HE MAKE ALL THOSE SMALL FLOPPY DISKS LOOK LIKE ONE GIANT ONE?” And then I read what I was actually looking at and then I was like “oh”. GG on the 3D models btw.

  3. william says:

    @Anon – lol i thought the same at first then i saw the keyboard and was like ohhhh… thats not as cool

  4. nemo says:

    not everything has to be practical. this thing is awesome because it is unique and because it is an idea made real with skill and experience.

  5. tom says:

    -_- ENOUGH ALREADY! Stop with the fiduciary markers. This is not augmented reality. This is a crappy barcode system.

  6. Osgeld says:

    augmented reality that I have seen is just a crappy barcode system with some video files popping up on the device

    so whats the difference

  7. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, I can think of one practical use. Its unfortunate because the use is advertising…

    Still, neat project!

  8. Brian says:

    Not necessarily a practical use (gaming?), but damn cool nonetheless!

  9. vonskippy says:

    I don’t get it.

    How was my reality augmented?

  10. mrgoogfan says:

    now we need a vanna white made from cd’s.

  11. cf says:

    Oh man, he built a kinotrope! Any other Difference Engine fans here??

  12. tom says:

    It wasn’t.


    These guys are on the right track.

  13. smoker_dave says:

    Thats crap.

    Check out the “wooden mirror” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCSbk9JDwPY

    It contains a small camera which alters the anglular position of wooden blocks to create a mirror image.

  14. McNoob says:

    I don’t know about this, I thought the mobius strip projector was the coolest thing on his site.

  15. The-713 says:

    This is probably the best use for floppies I’ve seen in the last couple years.

    Nice way to take something boring like a floppy disk (or several) and making it into something interesting.

  16. strider_mt2k says:

    keep the kids away from it or they’ try to play “Toss Across” and that just can’t go well.

  17. jwt says:

    not augmented reality.

    @tom nice link

  18. tom says:

    Just trying to inform people of the real AR research going on. I want this to be a mainstream technology as soon as possible after all.

  19. anon says:

    definition: ‘augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery.’

    when viewed through the HMD he mentions, it looks like AR to me!

  20. piku says:

    It’s not AR until I’m watching it through my own naked eyeballs without any daft looking headgear getting in the way.

    And AR will become interesting when I can attach virtual notes to people that then pop up when I next see them.

  21. Sam says:

    Wow, that is done very expensively. A servo for each floppy, and 5 servo controllers. He could have done it like the road safety signs, with little binary electromagnetic controllers to flip the disks back and forth. Would have been so much cheaper, simpler, faster changing, and quiet. Eh, it’s his hack, and to each his own.

  22. tom says:


    Still a bit daft looking I suppose, but it is rather awesome imo.


  23. Milton says:

    Is it just me or does that not look like a half-painted floppy, but /two white floppies and a black one/? (see 0:30 on the first vid)

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