Interactive Floor Projection – Project Proposal

On January 25, 2010, in openFloor, by Vlad Cazan

This is just a quick write up on the project and some of my goals for this semester.

Concept

The interactive floor projection project is a video-projection based installation that involves a projector being projected on the floor. With the use of infrared technology a camera that will be set up right beside the projector will be able to track the position of any human and then change the projection based on the position of humans. This is an extremely low-barrier installation as it allows anyone physically able or not to interact with it. Applications for this project are endless, but could include anything from games, interactive animations, advertisements etc. This interactive floor will be as responsive as a computer or a standard multi-thousand dollar whiteboards, so the audience will quickly understand how to interact with this installation.

Purpose

Video-based projection has been showing up everywhere in the past few years. With the costs of projectors, and the size of projectors going down it has become very simple to project any message or any sort of medium on any flat surface in our world. I would like to take advantage of this technology and also research the ways people do interact with the outside world, when they are not expecting it. This project is also very upgradeable for the future and it will give me something that I can keep working on and improving even after the initial design and implementation.

Target Audience

For this project I would like to keep the target audience extremely broad. It should not matter if you are 2 years old or 92 years old, everyone should be able to interact with this floor projection. Since this installation is based in the real world, it will have to be installed in a place where there are many people and has a large area for the projection. Places like shopping malls, schools, stores, museums would be perfect for this installation.

Treatment

The bulk of this project will be very technically challenging so the main focus of the project is creating something that is functional rather then something more visually focused. This project can be broken down into two different things; one part of this project is creating a system that can accurately pin point the exact his part of this project is creating a program which will use these points to interact with the humans on the floor. This part could be a game, an animation or an advertisement. The details of this will have to be based on the functionality of the detection system.

The detection system will have to be though out extremely well and then coded for many environments and different situations that could occur. The first important part of this project will be the infrared emitter. With some research on the internet I have found that there are some options for professional emitters but they are generally designed for security cameras and are pretty expensive. I found a company that offered a whole IR Led panel for about $99 (All Things Austria) but I knew that I could probably build the same exact thing myself. I took a trip to the local hobby electronic store called Creatroninc and I found exactly what I was looking for. For $0.65 I could buy one IR LED so I decided to buy 40 of them, and a few other pieces like a transistor and some pot switches to help me with the brightness and power usage. I knew that I did not want my infrared illuminator to be run from batteries, so I found an old AC adaptor and just decided to use that to power the whole device.

I have set up a breadboard with the design and with 8 IR led’s set up to test that the power and load would be sufficient for at least 36 led’s. In the commercial products there are sometimes 64+ led’s so I will have to experiment to find out how many I will need to light my scene properly. I will also have to find a nice case for it to that I can mount it easily beside the projector.

The next important aspect of this project is the camera itself. This will be the main method of input capture for this whole project so the camera must be fast (at least 15fps) and the camera must also be relatively clear. If there is a blurry image then it might be mistaken to be a real person and trigger an animation when there is no one on the floor. This would be less then impressive. The problem with standard cameras is that they have a built in filter that blocks all infrared light from traveling through the lens. This helps with things like sunlight and other IR sources being captured with the camera. For this project the mindset is completely reversed as the only thing I am looking for is the infrared light to travel though my lens. This will make everything black unless there is an IR source bellow. Since the IR illuminator will be right above the projected area, the whole area will be illuminated. When a person enters the area, a black shadow will be cast and the camera will pick up this lack of IR light and in turn calculate the position of the person on the floor. This is a technique called brightness thresholding and brightness tracking.

In order to have a camera be able to pick up IR light, the filter must be manually removed by hand, and a IR filter must be placed in its place. This website explains exactly how this process is done. http://www.hoagieshouse.com/IR/. After removing the filter that blocks IR light, you must put an IR filter. This website states that if you have a black exposed piece of film it will work perfectly. I will look for more materials that can be used as this filter. From experimentation I have found the center of a floppy disk drive to also be a good filter.

After the IR illuminator and filter have been set up the coding begins. Based on the dark spots on the camera image I will have to first create a class and library that can detect these dark spots and give an X,Y co-ordinate all the time. I then will take this data and create a application around it such as a simple game of pong or just a moving picture to test. There are many things that can be improved and added on such as detecting multiple people, analyzing their moods (standing still, moving, running, walking) and create different scenarios for different spaces and environments.

The last thing that I will need to take care of is building a support for the webcam, the projector and the illuminator to stay perfectly still and safe while this installation is going on. The use of a mirror to deflect light can be used to keep the projector upright while having control of the angle of projection. The best material to use for this would be wood with steal clips of some sort to hold the projector sturdy. I will also have to figure out about hanging requirements such as clamps and safety chains that might be required with this type of installation.

Resources

For this project I will require a number of resources from RTA. The most important piece of equipment would be a projector that is bright enough to project onto the floor. In the equipment distribution area there is a very old projector that Brian has assured me is not being used by anyone and I would be able to use it all semester. I wont know until I can test this projector out but it should be suitable for my application. If not I know that there are some newer projectors from media services but I am worried I will not have a very long time with the projector so that might pose some complications.

Another piece of equipment which I am looking for is an IR illuminator. A few years ago in intermediate digital media Richard brought a very nice IR illuminator to class so I was wondering if that was the schools or if it was his own from school. This would save me much time building this unit and making sure it is powerful enough for my application.

Since the webcam will have to be opened and modified to only view IR light, I will have to buy a webcam for this purpose.

Lastly the last thing I am looking for a few hours in a studio so that I can test my application and add real word scenarios to my project for testing and documenting.

Schedule

There are 10 weeks left for this project to be completed. The first two weeks I will be working on the IR illuminator, the harness for the projector and as well as trying different filters that I can use for a camera. By the second week I want to have a working camera built with the IR filter and place so that I can do some baseline tests with my IR illuminator to see if it will be enough light to illuminate the ground below the projector. After these are all built and functional it will be a few weeks of coding a program that will be able to detect the blobs and find a way to integrate it with processing or any external application.

The tricky part of this project will be testing the new code without having to hang the whole projector every time I want to switch the code. I will have to find a way to recreate the conditions that exists when the projector is hung, such as having a smaller IR emitter and keeping the projector close to the ground, so that I can perform tests while I am at home.

After the initial coding is complete there will be time on creating improvements to the code and allowing more complicated algorithms to be implemented. In the last few weeks the main focus will shift from the tracking program to the projector program. I want to create at least two different possible uses for this floor projector system to show the class the others the potential in this design.

Budget

In the real world the setup and installation of a installation like this is about $30,000. There has been equipment that has been designed to do this sole application but it can cost $20,000 and up. My goal for this project is to do this for under $100. The most expensive part of the project is the projector. A high quality wide angle projector can costs about $4300 but since the school already has this equipment my costs will be $0. I high quality IR illuminator can be bought for about $150 but if I build it on my own it will cost under $40. The last part of the project is a IR camera which can be purchased for as little at $150 but by taking apart an old one, removing its filter and adding an IR filter, this cost can also be taken down to $0. In the real world a project like this is expected to cost at least $5000 without any of the programming and design of the actual system. Companies have created systems which make it much easier to code and design but again these products cost from $20,0000 and up.


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5 Responses to “Interactive Floor Projection – Project Proposal”

  1. Hi Vlad, this is Kunal, I’m a local computer hardware shop owner from Bhilai, Chattissgarh, India. Your concept and approach sounds good to me and I would like to know if you have continued this project from this concept to a actual working product ? I ask this because I’m intrested in making and installing some floor/ wall projection systems like this at our local malls and hotels. Do contact me.

  2. Jazeel says:

    Dear Vlad,

    Great Job !, im interested in creating one of these and has some rather cerative ideas. But before that need to create the base tracking software . Will you be able to help me out with it

    Best Regards
    Jazeel

  3. GP karan says:

    hi Vlad,
    i really appreciate your job, i am working on a similar project with face recognition as well, i am sure i am go nu need ur support, hope u can help me out, but now congrats for ur work. will mail u soon

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