Performing Magic With A Little High-Tech Help

Doing magic with cards involves a lot of precise dexterity to know which card is where. For plenty of tricks, this is often knowledge and control of a single card or a small number of cards. But knowing the exact position of every single card in the deck could certainly be helpful, so the Nettle Magic Project was created to allow magicians to easily identify the location of cards in the deck.

The system works through the use of computer vision to identify a series of marks on the short edge of a stack of cards. The marks can be printed in IR- or UV-sensitive ink to make them virtually invisible, but for demonstration these use regular black ink. Each card has landmarks printed on either side of a set of bit markers which identify the cards. A computer is able to quickly read the marks and identify each card in order while the deck is still stacked, aiding the magician in whichever trick they need to perform.

The software only runs on various Apple devices right now, including iPhones and iPads, but the software is readily available fore experimentation if you are a magician looking to try something like this out. Honestly, we don’t see too many builds focusing on magic, sleight-of-hand or otherwise, and we had to go back over a decade to find a couple of custom magical builds from a magician named [Mario].

Thanks to [Tim] for the tip!

13 thoughts on “Performing Magic With A Little High-Tech Help

    1. Normal car keys don’t.

      The one in the link is a camera made to look like a BMW car key.

      Its only reason to exist is to cheat at card games. It is explicitly advertised for use in reading bar codes from marked cards.

      1. that listing is just perfectly ironic:

        All the products we provide use for magic show only, Please do not use for gamble.
        China Poker Cheat Co.,Ltd reserved final interpretation.

  1. This reminds me of the episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Sheldon couldn’t figure out how a card trick was done so he put barcodes on the back of every card.

    1. I don’t know about your actual number, but youtube has videos that assert that if you shuffle a deck a few times, the order of the cards in your particular deck is one that has never existed in the history of the universe, and never will again, by a huge margin. Here’s one that i liked:

    2. Surely it’s “only” 52! ways (or 54! if you include jokers), right? Even so, what does the number of possible combinations have to do with how feasible this is? It comes down to the resolution of the camera being able to differentiate the stack of barcodes quickly and reliably enough.

  2. tommEE pickles’s statement probably had a superscript number originally (“8 to the power of 1067” was likely “8 to the power of 10^67”), but that’s still the wrong number. As RunnerPack said, the number of unique shuffles of a 52-card deck is 52! (“fifty-two factorial”) or 8.0658… * 10^67 (about “eight times ten to the power of sixty-seven”). With two jokers in the deck, it’s 54! or 2.3084… * 10^71.

    But as RunnerPack said, the number of permutations doesn’t have anything to do with the ability of the barcode to work? The barcode reader has to detect the barcode on the edge of every card, so it must have some pretty good resolution.

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