Mixed Reality Report - Recent Updates
Doubling Down on Gesture Sensors
After flirting with a capacitive sensor on some Mixed Reality rides, such as inviting people to "touch the oak leaf," I had to abandon the capacitive sensor. Asking someone to touch something suddenly seemed like a dangerous request.
So I started converting everything to "touchless."
My first enabler was the APDS gesture sensor.
For a month or two it was off in the distance, then suddenly it was on us: COVID-19. When Fab@CIC and District Hall and Cambridge Hackspace closed their doors, I joined a number of local Slack- and Zoom-powered COVID groups. But without sewing skills, I couldn't help the mask cause. So I shifted my explorations to a humbler "information pain" challenge: "touchless."
Gachapon goes interstate
Gopi reports that he just received a call from the manager of his New Haven restaurant, the original Tikkaway a few blocks from the Yale University campus. "He told me that two new customers had presented long, colorful strips of paper with a 15% discount offer," Gopi said. "He was wondering where they came from, and what he should do with them."
A New Version of the Mixed Reality Challenge at District Hall, plus an Instagram Shoutout
A new, improved version of the Mixed Reality Challenge is live at District Hall (better display, more consistent dispensing), and Adriana Kattan Saca honored the occasion with an elegant post on Instagram. Includes a video.
Mixed Reality Challenge 2.0 Takes Shape at Fab@CIC... with a Capacitive Sensor
After remaking the District Hall gumball machine, with a stepper motor and a newly engineered case, we turned our attention to making one for Fab@CIC... with a twist. Fab@CIC's Mixed Reality Challenge, located at the entrance, has two goals: to get you to play the game, yes, but also to lure you to the rear of the coffeeshop, where things start to get makery.
Origami Lucky Stars as Information Medium
The capsule machine works best right inside the front door, with the gesture sensor right next to it. We've learned that at Fab@CIC and District Hall. People enjoy the immediate reward; the quick, easy engagement. And that has changed how we've stocked the capsule machine, twice.
Particle Photon Workshop at Cambridge Hackspace
Cambridge Hackspace hosted a lively 3-hour workshop on the Particle Photon, the microprocessor that we use the most to power the Mixed Reality Challenges at Fab@CIC and District Hall. Instructor Robert Vinci hoisted a projector on top of a tall shelf and guided the class through his 42-page syllabus. Each workshop participant also received a Particle Photon kit.
Mixed Reality Challenge at CIC Kendall Square Housewarming
That's Joey Lindsey, of Fab@CIC, demonstrating the Mixed Reality Challenge at the housewarming event at CIC's newest facility in Kendall Square. The celebration marked the culmination of a multi-phase launch for CIC and the start of CIC’s 20th year in Kendall Square, where the company was founded in 1999.
A Levitation Workshop at Cambridge Hackspace
Magnetic levitation, that is. Even so, it's a crowd pleaser. The cheap-from-China platforms work, but they're fragile. You have to set them up just right. Touch one and it will collapse with a clank, as the magnet slams down to the metal surface. Not a display you can leave unmonitored. Still, I was game when Ed Klacza, Cambridge Hackspace prez, offered a workshop on magnetic levitation.
A Night Out for the Toy Capsule Machine
Cambridge Hackspace joined forces with Fab@CIC to work on a new version of the Wifi Connected Gumball Machine. So it made sense to make a joint venture to a Cafe Night at District Hall. The theme was inspireHER. Also a good excuse to try out a cheap Chinese action cam.
Road Trip. The Mixed Reality Challenge Moves to CIC Boston for a Night
For one night only, the Mixed Reality Challenge moved about 25 city blocks east, and 20 stories straight up to a lively Arts Technica night at CIC Boston. The goal of Arts Technica was to highlight how artistic expression is incorporated into modern technology. In addition to the Mixed Reality Challenge, the demos included virtual reality, video game graphic demonstrations, art installations using ePaper technology.
I knew they were heading my way: the laser cutters. The next gumball machine design demanded it, and they are obviously just too damn useful.
On a typical open project night at Cambridge Hackspace, they are almost always the featured attraction, the highlight of the tour.
The laser cutters are always working, burning their way through projects from acrylic boxes to wooden coasters.
So time to figure laser cutters out.
Augmented Reality is working okay. Actually not that good. But it requires an app, and a phone. Which could be pushing me towards a challenge that I've already faced, and haven't really solved: people just aren't that eager to whip out their phones and download an app. So I'm adding a fall back, an easier onramp: something built around a gesture sensor
DC Denison is Senior Editor, Technology, at Acquia, the digital experience company. He is also co-editor of the Maker Pro Newsletter, and a contributing editor at Make: magazine.