Medusa: a proximity-aware tabletop

Finally [Michelle Annett] can talk about her super secret project she did at Autodesk Research.

Medusa, as [Michelle]‘s project is called, is a Microsoft Surface that has been fitted with 138 proximity sensors. This allows the Surface to sense users walking up to it, and detect users hands and arms above the table top. Multiple users can be detected at the same time, and the left and right hands of two users can be mapped to specific users.

The proximity sensors [Michelle] used are inexpensive, so we’re wondering when someone with a crazy multitouch setup will add proximity sensors to their build. We’d like to play with Medusa, even if just for a virtual game of Settlers of Catan. It seems like the perfect setup…

[Michelle] built Medusa last January during her internship at Autodesk. Now that UIST 2011 is over, she can finally talk about it. There’s also a video demonstrating the possibilities of Medusa, check it out after the break.

Thanks [Fraser] for sending this one in.

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Halloween Hacks: Flickering Jack-o’-lantern

The dollar store is always a great place to find some weird stuff, so when [jethomson] found a flickering Jack-o’-lantern, he thought it would make a great project for the 74xx logic competition.

Instead of using the flickering incandescent lightbulb that came with the blinking pumpkin, [jethomson] decided to rebuild a blinking circuit around a 74HC14 Hex inverting Schmitt trigger IC. The chip was used as a relaxation oscillator by adding a resistor and cap from the input to the ground. After a bit of component selection and some calculation, he had a red and blue LED blinking at 2,6,9, and 15 Hz.

The result is a seemingly random pattern of light that looks like a ghostly blue after image of the handheld Jack-o’-lantern. While it may not be one of the most complex builds for the 74xx competition, it gets points in our book for originality.

Although [jethomson] says his camera doesn’t pick up his project very well, he did post a video of the Jack-o’-Lantern in action. Check it out after the break.

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