Hogtown Consulting

technology for experience

Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Fiducials get a make-over in d-touch

Augmented reality type apps are what all the cool geeks are doing it seems. I mean the apps that use a video camera to recognise certain symbols (aka fiducials) and then overlay additional virtual content. Like this prototype I built.

I think there’s real space for interesting apps here. The technology has been getting better and more accesible for a while. One remaining constraint though is that the markers came in very computery designs and there wasn’t much you could do to get around that. The software systems depended on very formula-based symbols, which might be great for computer vision but didn’t leave much aesthetic control with the creator.

Things are changing for the better though on that front too. As this article explains the d-touch marker recognition system is now much more flexible in terms of the markers it will recognise. For example the speech bubble image here is recognisable to the system, a big improvement from the more typical amoeba style blob shown above it.

I’m going to play with some prototype ideas I have for using this new system, so hopefully will be able to kick out some stuff soon.

Geeky d-touch setup details
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Written by Patrick Dinnen

August 20th, 2009 at 2:48 pm

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Problems Wanted

Over the last year or so I’ve been shifting the focus of my work from mostly web based projects to… well, ummmm… to something difficult to define but exciting. Now exciting is great, but difficult to define has some obvious problems. Not least that it’s rather tough to sell services you have trouble defining.

Broadly I call myself as a technologist. I enjoy knowing what tech is out there, what’s newly possible or affordable and using technology to get things done. That’s still pretty broad though, there’s an awful lot of technology and possible applications in the world after all.

So I’m working on figuring out my niche. Defining what I do (and for who and why).

One thing I am sure of: my best work happens when working on interesting problems with smart people. So then, the route forward is obvious: find more interesting problems and work on them with smart people.

Interestingness being subjective, I’ll outline some of the problems I’ve worked on recently that I’d count as interesting:

Luminato 2008 Light Play – Working with KPMB Architects to design and develop sound reactive system for the huge outdoor installation they created. [more details]

Installation for Toronto the Good party 2009 – the brief was to create an interactive, party friendly installation that emphasised Toronto’s history. The solution was a bicycle controlled video tour of the city streets. [more details]

Grandparent/Grandchild communications appliance – starting from scratch to design a relationship specific communications device based around simple sharing of photos and voice messages. [more details]

If you have an interesting problem, or just feel like a chat, please drop me a line.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

August 12th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

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Faust for the 21st century

One of my pseudo-resolutions for 2009 is to better document and publicise the stuff I work on. This is a great example of that. The concept for a iPhone geolocated game that Jefferson Wright and I created (in an intense weekend) during the CFC Interactive Arts and Entertainment program.


We came up with this nearly a year ago (April 2008), and I think it contains some pretty neat ideas. I just wish that we documented it online then rather than now – when it feels a little less cutting edge, because this stuff really exists now.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

March 25th, 2009 at 11:12 am

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Twitter wall for #hohoto event

Monday night was party night for the Toronto geek crowd, at the #HoHoTO party. Read about it or watch an awesome video about how it all came together. It was a great event put together by a very cool bunch of volunteers, with 25k was raised for the local foodbank.

This was a great chance for me to roll out the TXTris wall version 2 which I’ve been working on.

I customised the projection to be all software and it ran on two huge screens at the Mod Club for a large chunk of the party. I plugged into Twitter as the content source, so people at the party could senda twet and see it tumble down the screens in real(ish) time.

More details over at Media Lab Toronto and some (rather dark) pictures from the night on Flickr.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

December 18th, 2008 at 5:02 pm

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Cardboard augmented display prototype

I’m working on an update to the TXTris projection system. You can read about the original and details on how it works. The gist is that it’s a txt message projection system that is ‘aware’ of physical obstacles placed in front of the projection screen.

This new version uses JBox2d, a open source code library for doing in game physics. I’m using it to provide much more realistic behaviour from the text. Now it slides, bounces, flips and falls in a realistic way.

There’s a grainy video after the jump showing how this looks working against my computer monitor. The final will be a projection at wall size.

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Written by Patrick Dinnen

November 7th, 2008 at 10:53 am

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Gaku – a grandparent/grandchild communications appliance

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend 5 months as a resident in the Canadian Film Centre’s New Media Lab programme. This was an opportunity to learn from a great faculty of ‘new media’ experts and then to spend time working within a team to develop a prototype project.

Our team, Angella Mackey; Deiren Masterson; Jeff Wright and myself, found common ground in an interest in using technology to strengthen human relationships at a distance.

Over an intensive 10 week production period we designed and built the Gaku you see here (in fact we built a pair). Gaku is a stand-alone device for use by grandparents and grandchildren to communicate, sharing photos and recorded messages.

Special thanks are due to Howard Suissa of Suissa Computers who helped up take our design for a wood encased, physically controlled computing device and make it a reality.

We’ve had a great response when we show the prototypes and we’re currently looking at options for moving forward beyond the prototype stage.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

October 22nd, 2008 at 3:43 pm

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Canadian Election 2008 Visualization

Here’s a visualization of the results of Canada’s recent election I’ve been working on.

The idea is to present the results in a way that allows you to explore in interesting ways. The data presented is pretty straightforward, with a group of coloured blobs representing the votes for each candidate in a riding.

I added one extra feature, a black ring that shows the votes for candidates other than the winner in each riding. This seemed particularly relevant for this election, where less than 38% of the popular vote went to the Conservatives yet they get to form the government.

You can explore the results:

If you have suggestions, thoughts or what have you feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

October 20th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

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Huge Balloon Project

I’m eyeball deep in a great project to build an interactive system for 250 5ft, colour LED lit balloons right now. I’m collaborating with David MacAllum and Gabe Sawhney and we’re working with an awesome installation by KPMB for the Luminato festival.

update post-event: We, Media Lab Toronto, worked on sound reactive lighting effects that ran at various points throughout the week. We were given special billing along with the Silent Rave event (slightly odd, given the sound reactive nature of our setup). Gabe built on the control system I had put together in Processing and came up with a really elegant system for controlling the lighting colours and rhythm by hand. The night was earily silent (as billed) but loads of fun. Raju Mudhar from The Star described it like this:

“With the choreographed lighting from the balloons in the square, it did feel a bit like an outdoor club. But more than that, it was spontaneous and fun. People shared earphones with those that didn’t have. Every festival in town could use more of these types of moments.”

You can read more at Media Lab Toronto and see photos of the setup, silent rave and some rainy shots.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

June 4th, 2008 at 4:04 pm

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The all knowing table

Actually it isn’t an all knowing table, but I have been working on a prototype table interface that can recognise objects and respond to them.

The project is based on the Reactivision software. Which takes care of recognising a specific set of amoeba looking symbols and reporting their position.

The underlying tech is fairly simple, though getting it right (or at least close) turned out to be a pretty big job. The surface itself is a perspex sheet with a sheet of filter applied, so it can hold a projected image. Underneath the screen is a camera, to recognise the objects placed on it, and a projector, to display the interface. There is also an infrared light source and the camera is filtered to allow in IR only, so it isn’t confused by the light from the projector.

The interface is certainly only a fraction of what is possible with this system. The majority of my time went into the physical setup and I wanted to get something done, so this is a quick hack in Processing.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

February 4th, 2008 at 6:43 pm

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Media Lab Toronto appears

TXTris installation I’m tired, but excited, after what might be called the ‘launch’ of Media Lab Toronto.

MLT is an idea, or really a bunch of ideas, and some people (Dory Kornfeld, Michael Pereira, Gabe Sawhney and I so far). The ideas tend to revolve around new media, technology and art (with some knitting and laser beams tossed in).

Tonight we became somewhat tangible with our first installation, TXTris, at CaseCamp6 in Toronto. TXTris is an interactive, SMS controlled installation that mixes computer generated with the staunchly DIY physical. You can read more over at Media Lab Toronto’s blog.

There is no shortage of ideas for cool thins we can build, assuming we can find a way to balance this with paying for roofs over our heads (maybe even have it help with that). Tangible table top interface, non-screen projections, LED stuff, the list runs on. Keep watching.

Written by Patrick Dinnen

November 21st, 2007 at 12:32 am

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