PComp: Final Proposal

For my ICM midterm, I created a program that gives the user the illusion of flying and/or swimming. It uses face recognition to determine how close your face is to the screen, which determines the speed at which you fly. Here’s a screenshot:

I wanted the controls to be more organic — and intuitive. So why not allow the user to control his or her movements by rowing in real water?

The user stands between two water tanks, and in front of a computer/TV screen. If this was a video game, the water tanks are the controllers.

Now, there are two ways these controllers could work. The first way would involve real water, photo cells and a human capacitance sensor, much like our magic water bowl:

The second option is to use another type of sensor — perhaps a range finder or one of those sensors used at retail stores that triggers every time the light beam is broken. (Not sure what it’s called. A proximity sensor?)

So what happens on the computer screen? Well, it’s as if you were rowing a real boat!

In addition, to give the rower a sense of space in the screen, the lily pads move away from the center as you row to that area, almost as if your body or boat is pushing those pads away.

Sounds are also a crucial part of this project. As you row quicker or faster, the louder the water sounds. Also, if you only row on the left side, there should only be sound on the left side.

But the environment I create coule get boring. So why not use the world as an environment? Or, one day, maybe the moon? Google can help.

While this would be incredibly cool, there’s a big question I’m struggling with: So what? Why does this matter?

The best answer so far: Most virtual exploration programs don’t really give you a sense of space. When you move forward, you’re clicking or pushing the “up” button. Well, this forces you to perform a physical activity in order to move in a virtual space. And that physical activity is something very intuitive, especially if you’ve ever waded through water or rowed a boat.

We just listened to Ford Cochran from NatGeo talk about bringing other people into world’s they cannot go themselves. And I think this would be yet another step to allowing people to feel as if they are in another world, with control of that world.

This, of course, come at a time when Microsoft has released its Kinect system, which is so all-encompassing. But what they lack is a physical response from the physical action. I want to overcome that by actually letting users touch the water and push it backward, allowing them to feel forward movement on their hands in an organic way.

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