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Novel Infrared Touch-Screen Technology and Associated Artwork
This is a novel technique for a touch screen using front-projected infrared with a rear-projected interactive video display. The technology is demonstrated with three art pieces. Two of the art pieces allow participants to create works in the forms of Calder and Mondrian. The third is a visualization of radio interferometry.

Life Enhancement
This technology is generally applicable to numerous user-interface applications. However, I have chosen to use it for interactive artwork. In my opinion, artwork by its very nature enhances the life of both creator and viewer. In this and all artwork I create, I strive to give participants a playful environment in which to interact. I believe that all play is a form of learning, and I hope that my projects create at least intuitive, if not deeper, understanding of some aspect of life or the universe without necessarily being overtly didactic.

Unlike my previous shadow-sampling techniques, I believe that this system has very broad usefulness beyond interactive artwork (my primary concern). In particular, I can imagine it being used in situations where one wants to permit interaction without any exposed devices such as shopping windows or gallery fronts.

Artistically, I believe that interactive artworks such as these and others that I have created have a broad appeal to an enormously wide range of audiences. I have rarely displayed any interactive work that did not elicit smiles, laughter, and a childlike sense of playfulness in the participants. The power of interactive art lies in harnessing play, as is manifest in games of all kinds, from traditional sports and board games to advanced video games. Play is a powerful, if poorly understood, human instinct and is a powerful tool which, when harnessed properly, delights and teaches in unexpected ways.

Technologically: Proof of concept that infrared shadow-sensing works.

Artistically: To permit participants to work in the form of two famous abstractionists (Calder and Mondrian) so they can explore their work as a creator instead of as a viewer. In the case of "Interference," to build intuition for the beautiful mathematics of wave mechanics.

All hardware components are off-the-shelf consumer items. The key innovation is the idea that multiple, diffuse light sources cast from oblique angles can be used as an image-detection system. Many well-known image-detection and filtering algorithms are exploited, and coded in custom C/C++. Also necessary are the calibration algorithms that correlate camera space to screen space, but these algorithms are not novel, as I used identical code in the shadow detection pieces displayed at SIGGRAPH 2002.

The artistic components include several innovative uses of commonly available algorithms. In particular, the Calder piece relies heavily on an open-source physics engine (ODE).

Wednesday, 11 August
8:30 - 10:15 am
Room 404AB

Zack Booth Simpson

emerging technologies jury and committee
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Conference 8-12 August, Exhibition 10-12 August.  In Los Angeles, CA