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05.25.2009 – Hot Off the Soldering Iron!

You know, years ago when my Dad taught me how to solder some wires together to give my pinewood derby car LED headlights, I never thought that it would be a skill I would use again. Or that if I did that I would actually remember how to do it. Yet here I am; I’ve just put together a prototype apparatus for a new project using resistors, LEDs, and camera tracking. I am working with a flavor of interactivity that I don’t think I ever expected to find myself invested in. My new device will allow you to make music with gestures of your hands. I know it’s been done before, but I would like to see what sorts of pieces I might be able to come up with that would involve such a (presumably) intuitive device.

Ah! There’s the trick: making it intuitive. For every smooth and easy interface that we use every day, there are piles of code and thousands of hours invested in development to make it so natural. Whenever possible, I try to reuse someone else’s code for things like this, but some of the methods and gestures I seek to implement are unique, and in fact are what I believe will set it apart somewhat from other gesture-based endeavors.

I’ve just finished the first stage of the prototype, that is that I have built the hardware, set up the interface, and have begun collecting data. My burden now is to take that data and find ways to interpret the gestures I have defined so that they will be recognizable with the least possibility for misinterpretation. I know that I’m just digging a hole for myself, but I intend to use six points of tracking with gestures that not only take into account distances but speeds and even three-dimensional rotation.

I realize that I may have just said a lot of nothing and you may still be wondering about many of the details of the project. I do find myself inclined in the early stages of these projects to keep the cards somewhat close to the ol’ vest, but am eager to reveal more and more details as my prototypes turn into working pieces. So stay tuned! This one is developing rather quickly!