Google Cardboard – VR out of a box!

So at last I had enough time to finally put together the VR Google Cardboard DIY headset. I had previously purchased one off of ebay, but it was so poorly cutout and made, I couldn’t even fit an old ipod touch into it, however, what it did get me was the lenses and the NFC chip that are actually quite tricky to get hold of.

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First step was to cut out the paper printouts and make sure they all would fit into my lovely bit of cardboard, I found that the regular corrugated stuff was not very usable.

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This the lovely thin but firm cardboard I rescued from a magimix box, just the right type of stuff.

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Unlike this rubbish that I bought from eBay…

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Tools needed included plenty of blades and my trusty scalpels…

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plus some good old spray mount, don’t you just love how it covers everything in a fine mist of stickiness 🙂

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Safety ruler at the ready and I start with the complicated section to hold in the lenses.

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Straight sections are a breeze but the circular areas look impossible to get smooth.

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Looking pretty good,  but it does take me 45 minutes to cut all the fiddly bits out, but I am very pleased that I haven’t lost my knife skills.

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Another hour sees all of the areas cut and ready for assembly, unfortunately I don’t have instructions as to how it all fits together and which way the lenses go in so a bit of youtube surfing ensues…

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Lenses and NFC chip ready to go in, but where?

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This is where the NFC chip for Google Cardboard goes!

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Add a bit of double sided to keep the lenses in position and squeeze it together.

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Put into the cut out slots and it’s all fitting together nicely. add a rubber band and some double sided velcro and it’s finished, although there seems to be a fatal flaw that my phone can just slip out either side, hmm, will have to look at an updated design for that bit…

 

Space in the side for my phone to slide out!

Space in the side for my phone to slide out!

Unfortunately, because my box is not plain cardboard it looks like I now have a magimix VR food viewer, but hey let’s give it a go!

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The first experience I want to try with GC is the Paul McCartney and Jaunt 360 app that I have already downloaded onto my phone.

http://mashable.com/2014/11/20/paulvmccartney-vr-app/

When I tried this without the GC it was amazingly clever, as the sound moves around as you turn, and with good headphones on is mightily impressive.

Then I have a look at what’s available within the Google Cardboard app itself on the Play store, it has a few things, one of the nicest was ‘windy day’ a cute little animated 360 film about a mouse with a big hat on a windy day. The funniest thing about this was I was obviously facing the wrong way and didn’t realise there was a character ‘stood’ behind me, I was just looking at the falling leaves!

The next demo was of sculptures that you could look all the way round, very nice, but not very immersive…

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.samples.apps.cardboarddemo&hl=en

I then started to search for a roller coaster 360 demo and I plumped for FiBrums offering, whicvh after I realised I needed to stare at the go lever it was very cool, in fact I was almost glad when it finished, very, very clever.

http://fibrum.ru/index_en.html

I also had a look at another offering from Jaunt – Kaiju Fury  which wasn’t very inspiring, but there are lots of things out there to play with.

I will start looking at things from a slightly different angle with my newly built Google Cardboard goggles and need to put them together with my leap motion for some truly immersive visual feasts!

So yes, it was definitely worth waiting for, and you cannot appreciate the experience without having a go, so I highly recommend making a pair for yourself, but if you don’t have 3 hours to put one together I would buy the official version from one of the 4 big companies that sell them such as dodo case or unofficial cardboard, this link takes you to the google page that explains a little more and gives you a link to the makers sites.

https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/get-cardboard.html

Give it a go!

Leap Motion, a first look

There are a few different ways to use gesture to control, rather than a physical button pressing controller.

The Leap Motion is a lovely little device, and promises much.

 

 

Leap Motion

Leap Motion

Leap Motion next to a pen so you can see the size

Leap Motion next to a pen so you can see the size

Leap Motion

Leap Motion

I wanted to see if it could deliver it’s claim of a new way of interacting with the world.

The first thing after unboxing was to have a play in the recently updated Leap Motion playground with some of the v2 apps.

As you can see from the video it’s amazing when it works, how intuitively it takes your hand movements and interpret them into a 3D space, when you can pick up and play with virtual objects.

The Leap Motion getting started zone

The Leap Motion getting started zone

But almost as soon as I’m out of the ‘playground’ area I stumble over the recurring problem of coding the damn thing, not even that, I have to choose my language… Where’s the helpful button that says, don’t know which coding environment to use because it scares you witless? Click here and we’ll help .

I have no idea which development environment I’m going to be able to manage with, but I am always willing to have a look if I get a bit of help.

This is quite a common theme to trying to make art interactive, the code behind the technology is almost prohibitive and I know from experience that you can go so far down the complex track of coding, only to discover that actually, it would have been better to do it a different way, in a different code environment, but not being a coder this is tricky. I envy the guys at Aparna Rao as they have tech guys who turn their ideas into reality by looking after the backend, whilst they create…

But back to the Leap, I have to dive into the code, so I plump for the Javascript option, hoping that my small amount of flash scripting might help.

to be continued…

 

The Norwich Fringe Festival

This year I have been invited to take part in the Norwich Fringe Festival and I wanted to explain a little of the background to my live interactive art.

I was inspired to bring an inanimate object to life when I visited the Norwich Castle Museum and saw the Great Bustard display they have there, although they are now being reintroduced on Salisbury Plain, they had been extinct and I felt that the static display could be enhanced in a non-destructive way using the newest technology that I had been experimenting with. All of the printed items are Augmented Reality enabled with the download of the Aurasma app, but to make it truly immersive and non-exclusive I have used a pressure mat to augment the physical reality of the sculpture.

This technology could be used for anything, to find out more information, or to make the object interactive and I would love to see it used in more places.

My research continues as I look at more discrete motion sensors, such as a Leap Motion, or a kinect for a more gesture based experience. My feedback from this installation has always been positive and somewhat satisfying to view the flying animation as you stand on the pressure mat and watch the Great Bustard fly across the wall in front of you.

It reacts, because you interact…

fringe

 

 

The Norwich Fringe Festival is open from 11-25th of October and I am part of the Undercroft show, free to the public and open from 12-7 most nights (not Monday 13th).
If you want to meet me I will be invigilating on both Thursday Afternoons.

The Booklet below works using Aurasma an AR app to show you all of the background videos, please feel free to download and play with the AR enabled images.

To access the Augmented Reality content of my piece, you will need to download the free Aurasma app on your mobile device, either Android or Apple. Because the software is very sophisticated your device will need to be less than 18 months old to see the 3D cgi content, I have tested an iPad3-working, a Samsung Galaxy S2-working and an ipod4-not working, all other trigger images work on all platforms. Once you have downloaded Aurasma, open the app and then search for my channel – Tracey Tutt – subscribe to my content and then all of the images will come to life with more information.

GreatBustard_booklet

 

Artist Statement

I want art to be playful and this piece depends on the viewer taking a closer look at the sculpture and this interaction causes a physical and audio reaction, making the viewer feel part of the whole experience.

I constantly research and experiment to push boundaries and find limits, I want to excite and stimulate the viewer, using my creativity to tell another story over the original, blending technology seamlessly with beauty by weaving different media together.

This installation draws together and implements all of my research and experimentation over the last two years and I am using a huge array of mediums and techniques from traditional plaster sculpting, projection mapping, spatial stereo sound, hand drawn animation using real feathers, coding, and physical interactivity in a truly immersive transmedia experience to ‘virtually’ bring to life a Great Bustard in Norfolk after 180 years since it’s last sighting.

MAX msp and the pressure mat switch – the hard part #maxmsp #pressuremat

After successfully wiring up the pressure mat and feeling very pleased as I have never wired anything, ever…

It was over to MAX msp, I dutifully read through the tutorials and they are great, max comes with at least 20 or so basic tutorials and these all have working ‘patches’ or files that you can open, look at, play with and alter to get a feel for making your own and understand the syntax it uses for processes.

There seemed to be many people using MAX, for audio, video and interactive projects, the forums were active and lively and I felt confident to start with my own patch.

What I needed to program was the starting video to play and loop until the pressure mat switch was activated and a second video plays until it’s end and then returns to the original video which is still looping.

Doesn’t sound too difficult does it, but I have been testing and trying on and off from the beginning of July to try and get this to work…

I have looked and googled and tried as many different search terms as you like to try and see if anyone else has ever used a pressure mat directly into a computer and MAX msp, but there is no-one out there, or no-one has ever written about it being successful, and last night I’d almost decided that it wasn’t possible, I couldn’t get it to loop and return and the pressure mat thing wasn’t working or hadn’t been successfully recorded anywhere, my idea for simple activity was looking doomed.

I had been able to find a number of people using an arduino to interface with MAX, but at this point I didn’t want to start with another purchase and more software to learn!

I also had doubts about the pressure mat itself, it had come with 4 wires… which ones made the circuit? No paperwork came in the box, I guess you’re supposed to know what you’re doing…

And of course I had wired it to the plug before checking the live circuit.

I had to find an expert… fortunately Phil, one of the MRC technicians was one of the people who had said that MAX was good in the first place for interactivity, so with promises of coffee and or cake (Earl Grey black for future reference!) I managed to get an hour with Phil.

We started with the patch that my husband and I (I’d even roped him in too!) had been co-working on the night before – him more than me as I was about ready to give up at this point – and Phil was kind enough to say we were on the right lines, but needed to input the videos differently, using a bang, or a button rather than reading in the file to loop or play it. Then he tackled the returning to the original video as we had one switching to another on a click, just not by reading the end of the video to trigger the return to video 1.

We had looked at the delay function, but Phil suggested using the pipe command, we had calculated the length of the clip with ‘length’ but this was giving an odd number, that when worked into the pipe function returned to the original video, yay!..but before the end of the clip had actually played. Phil then set about trying to work out the fps and miliseconds needed as the 2720 ‘length’ number was obviously wrong, as he was looking through some of the reference material, I saw a ‘duration’ function which listed as returning ms, just what we wanted, and when he put into the patch, it worked!

This was amazing, I don’t think Phil will realise just how brilliant it was to see this working, for me…

With that working, he turned to the pressure mat, of course the first thing he did was to check which was the live loop out of the four wires… it wasn’t the ones I had hooked up!

So if you ever buy one of these pressure mats from maplin, the active wires that make the contact loop are the two on the inside of the mat, they actually came with a bit of the plastic casing missing, but no diagram, so here’s one I made earlier!

matwires

The red wires make the active loop.

I connected the right wires up to the extended wires and we plugged the now working jack back into the microphone socket.

He put the adc~ code into the patch, but it didn’t register anything, so we looked at the audio input options and here we found it wasn’t on and it wasn’t defaulting to the correct input, so after a bit of jiggery pokery with the audio in on the control panel of my laptop we got a signal.

Phil had put in what looked like a volt meter in MAX so we could read the base voltage and see what it changed to when the mat was stepped on, then he added a greater than value, which would activate the change in state, this worked well, but when you stepped off before the video finished it would return to the looping video, not good as I wanted the whole video to play, so Phil added a ‘gate’ which closed the activation whilst the video was playing.

To put it bluntly Phil is awesome and it all now works, bar the fullscreen which I will sort when it’s actually on the mac I will use for the show as that is different between macs and pcs (I’m working on a pc for these tests)

So just in case you ever fancy doing something like this yourself, here is a screenshot of the patch!

maxpatch

and here it is working!!!!

MAX MSP essential to know and useful tutorials #MAXMSP

Starting to use MAX msp and feeling very out of my depth. For the past 5 days I have been struggling to get through the tutorials and having major problems with getting any sort of video to play back, even using the tutorial patchers didn’t work. I just kept getting the error message imovie countdown.mov: error opening file whatever I tried. I downloaded MAX onto another machine, just in case it was the machine. no. Then I scoured the internet for different tutorials, thinking maybe it had a bug in the tutorial… no… Finally this morning, typing in ‘imovie dozer.mov: error opening file’ MAX msp’  into google and I get a result

movie playback in 64 bit version of Max is limited for the time being.
the 32 bit version does not have these limitations, and is recommended for users interested in quicktime functionality.
http://cycling74.com/forums/topic/vizzie-playr-imovie-error-opening-file-jit-qt-movie-doesnt-understand/

64bt is not compatible with the video playback.. how frustrating why doesn’t it say that on the download page…

by the way before you download if you want to do video DON’T DOWNLOAD THE 64 BIT!

Uninstall, reinstall (on one machine anyway) and presto bingo, working as it should be…

Cycling74 Max/MSP/Jitter Tutorials: Play a Movie

 

The very basics

http://alhodgsonn.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/maxmsp/