PCOMP FINAL: KNOB_AR / SIMPLE UNREALITIES SUMMARY

 
knob_pyramid.png
 

concept

A giant physical knob controls a tiny virtual light-sculpture in AR. Both are separated from each other, the audience has to make an intellectual connection between the two of them.

keywords

weight, presence, physicality, virtuality, space, augmentation, contrast, minimalism, reduction, haptic interaction, visual perception

technical setup

glossolalia_schematics (1) (1).png

code

We used a github repo to share our code - I never used it for sharing before but as a backup for my own code. It worked pretty well for collaborative coding. The code was written in C++ (Arduino) & Javascript (NodeJS, threeJS, ARJS). 

user feedback

The term "user" might be misleading, we think more of an audience rather than users for our project. Key takeaways from two play-tests:

  • audience likes to turn the piece
  • sheer physicality/scale of the input object is regarded as a plus
  • piece is turning very fast - this can dilute the original concept of an oversized knob
  • audience does not make an immediate connection between AR-object and physical object
  • AR object is very generic, no clear formal connection to the physical object
  • separation of the two objects into different spaces is necessary to avoid overshadowing one piece with the other
  • if audience is confused initially and understands the connection between the two objects later the whole piece is stronger as the impact of a delayed gratification is more powerful
  • the idea of a physical idea is generally welcomed as well, it more seen as an ironic statement than a concept - AR as output fits better conceptually but is formally more difficult to execute and understand (AR is by itself so new that the formal language is not set yet)
  • audience expects initially a greater variety in the output and understands the contrast between the two objects only after explanation of the concept

process

key takeaways

  1. Wood is an organic material, it does not compute.
  2. A change in scale affects pre- and post-production of a piece. They mutually influence each other.
  3. Stick to the original concept, keep iterations in mind for future projects.
  4. Collaboration works best when everybody is on the same page and knows what to do.
  5. Browser based AR is still in its early stages but already very promising.

Our project was at a bigger scale than we were used to and involved a lot of fabrication. We learned a lot in terms of project management, sourcing materials and fabrication (e.g. using the CNC router). The tiny and fragile PCOMP parts had to be integrated in the large scale mechanics of the knob and read those movements correctly. Server side programming and the JS frontend took a lot less time than fabrication. 

Our goal was to create an interactive installation piece for a gallery environment at a larger scale that raises questions about physicality, technology and our joy of play. 

The collaboration proofed to be the best way to create such a piece in a limited timeframe. We plan to exhibit the piece at the ITP Winter Show 2017 - there is still a few improvements to do for this event: re-do the CNC cuts in a hexagon shape, re-engineer the outer layer of the knob in wood, create a backup mechanism to the rotary encoder in case of mechanical failure, slow down the movement of the knob and improve the AR-model.