People-tracking orb demo makes us want to build our own

kinect_eye

Earlier this week, we came across a video of an orb-based eyeball that would follow you throughout the room, based on data gathered from a Kinect sensor. Try as we might, we couldn’t find much more than the video, but it seems that the guys behind the project have spoken up in a recent blog post.

[Jon George] of The Design Studio UK explained that the person-tracking eyeball visualization was built using a PC, a Kinect, and a product called the Puffersphere, which projects a 360 degree image on the inside of a glass orb. A panoramic image is converted for use by the special lens inside the sphere by applying a filter which warps the image into a circular shape.

After the image has been created, a simple Windows app is used in conjunction with the OpenNI framework that allows the image to follow you around the room.

The only problem with this fun little project is the price of the sphere – we’re not sure what it is exactly, but rest assured it is more than we are willing to pay for such a toy. We’re thinking there has to be a way to simulate the orb’s effect to some degree using cheaper hardware. It’s possible that it could be done using a small-scale DIY version of this spherical mirror projection build, though it consists of concave half-spheres rather than full orbs.

In the meantime, take a look at these two videos of the orb in action. Don’t worry – we know you were totally thinking about the Eye of Sauron, so the second video should not disappoint.

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Autonomous SWARM at large


SWARM has been showing up at a number of places. Until now, the mysterious spheres have been under human control. However, the SWARM has taken the first steps to autonomous control. The SWARM is a kinetic art project consisting of several large self-propelled metallic spheres that interact with each other and their environment. Each orb in the swarm is fitted out with a processor, GPS, accelerometers, and Zigbee wireless communications. The entire project is open source. Slated to appear at the 2008 Burning Man festival, the orbs will use their GPS to wander within a specified area, keeping themselves “in bounds”.

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Maker Faire 2008: SWARM


SWARM is a large scale kinetic art project. The electrically powered spheres move by shifting the batteries around the center axle. By tilting the central ring, th orb can steer as well. The SWARM members are currently radio controlled, but the plan is for them to eventually receive commands from a mother node. More information about the orbs’ design is available on the project wiki. A video of the wobbly buggers in motion is embedded after the break.

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