Ad-hoc workspace sharing prototype

I’ve been IKEA-hacking. There’s a great community that does this for real – do you think mine counts? I’ll explain first.

I recently posted an idea for ad-hoc workspace sharing for under $US 500/person. The idea is simple: get one of the new LED-based micro projectors, tape it to a webcam and point them at a surface. Then everything the camera sees can be projected back onto the same surface, or more interestingly to a remote setup along the same lines. Now two people at different locations can share a workspace.

When figuring out how to prototype this, I then thought of the ubiquitous angle-poise task lamp. Apparently Anglepoise is actually a brand, which I did not know – it’s the true original, designed by George Carwardine in the UK in 1934. It’s this lamp that Jac Jacobsen found in a shipment of sewing machines, licensed and redesigned in 1937, resulting in the classic Luxo L-1 luminaire. Some version of this architects’ lamp then inspired John Lasseter to animate Luxo Jr., the short film that became the spirit of Pixar.

Now, I’m going for low-cost, ad-hoc and ubiquitous. I’m not going to use a $200 Luxo L-1 or Anglepoise Original 1227. Not unless I find a new source of funding, anyway 😉 In any case, it’s more appropriate for me to use the most low-cost, ubiquitous version of this superbly functional modern design: IKEA’s TERTIAL. $18.95 from my local IKEA in Sydney, $8.99 in the US.

The height is perfect to throw a 30cm/12″ diagonal display from the 3M MPRO110 Micro Projector, and if you remove the lamp assembly the projector fits beautifully in its place, with room to spare for a webcam. Here’s my blueprint and a shot of the design in situ. If you make one too, we can try them out.
TERTIAL blueprint Tertial Augmented Workspace

Next is to design and implement some user interaction methods. One quite nice thing is that the field of view of the camera is wider than the lightfield of the projector. This means that we can use the projected area for direct manipulation of things in the mediaspace, and use the area around it as a gestural interaction zone for anything that effects the mediaspace as a whole. Some sketches:

rosegarden1.jpgRose garden interaction sketch 2

3 Responses to “Ad-hoc workspace sharing prototype”

  1. erik says:

    cool, actually after ozchi I briefly mentioned to David Browning a rough idea about capturing from above the tabletop design process.
    Back to your project is camera tracking preferable to a (cheaper) PDA virtual keyboard to get input back into the computer because you can do shapes rather than just virtual keyboard input?

  2. viveka says:

    Hello Erik, nice to have you. Everyone (yes, all three of you) go and look at Erik’s blog, he’s a lovely little thinker with deep and useful insights to spare.

    Anyway, I think it’s better because you can use rich, familiar real-world tools, like the moleskine notebook, fountain pen and pencil in the example above. You can bring in something you did earlier, using a different medium. I’m trying to damage the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds. I don’t think this tool is enough, but it’s a start.

    Another thought is that the lamp could project Augmented Reality (AR) targets at the corners. Then you could move tokens around in the real space and see 3D objects moving correspondingly in the virtual representation of it.

  3. […] I’m hoping to talk about mixed reality and tabletop systems as opposed to immersive virtual environments for collaborative creativity at a distance. Or […]

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