Wednesday, 16 December 2009


These are some notes of stuff I shouldn't leave out of my presentation of the multi-touch water project:

note 1. The wooden frame was the hardest part and I didn't took a picture of it because I was FED-UP with it.

note 2. Thanks list:
> Ikbal [IR LED lights]
> Andy Buckland  [helped me with the LED ribbon]
> Shane [how to stick very thin acrylic pieces together]
> Alex Hulse [how to create a wooden picture frame]
> Alan Gardner [helped me with the wooden picture frame]
> Varun [hosting my installation]
> Suki [help with the cloth to keep the inner of the installation dark]
> Rave's IT department for a floppy!

It was my christmas present from them to me! =) After 1 day of searching and asking, receiving answers like "There isn't any floppy left in Rave or anyway order it from e-bay.." I finally made it. Someone suggested me to ask in the IT dept. and so I did,. and one of the IT guys there had a box of floppies on his desk !!! I mean, he uses them in daily basis? that was a moment for happiness for me. But all the people there.. it felt like home to me; computers' people.

note 3. Cost:
> Burned my finger, cut a piece of hair because of glue, cried (for the wooden frame..).

note 4. What to improve in the next project:
> time management, though I think I couldn't have done better for this project in this period of time.
> "Taking risks" and "not being afraid to fail" requires very strong nerves.
> Avoid wooden constructions.
> Take into consideration "Opening Hours" of departments I'm planning to use.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

The adobe experiment (Premiere Pro, After Effects)

Well, the thing with the current project is to experiment with as many technologies as possible! So when I finished my blob-recognition software in Max/Jitter as well as the graphics' projection according to it, I thought of adding something more to my project, since that would allow me to try even more technologies.

Firstly I thought of Java externals for my Max/Jitter application, and since I found the Koch Snowflake implemented in Java I tried to make a so-called patcher to use in my application. That wasn't easy at all, as Max/MSP/Jitter has very bad support so I decided to postpone fractals for the next term, because I'm also interested to study the Maths related to them in depth.

Rave in my head
And then I thought of a video ! In that way the informal trade with Craig selling Silverlight for video editing, played a major role, so after the Awesome lessons Craig gave me I ended up with the video below. If everything goes well the installation will have the title "Rave in my head"; Rave for ravensbourne as well as for enthusiasm mixed with insanity, since it hasn't been a long time since I started finding my way in the college (where am I, who are all these people, what am I doing here exactly, what am I supposed to do etc.)

Rave in my head video from F.J. Valeonti on Vimeo.

With this video, the list of the technologies I dealt with was increased by the number of 2:
> Adobe Premiere Pro for montage
> Adobe After Effects for effects on the video

And now?.. I'm praying that the building thing of the installation will go well.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Multi-Touch Water

Last week I explained my concept to Martin and somehow with his hints and some work this project turned to be much more interesting than it looked like from my research on multi-touch screens. The concept will be as explained in the previous post with only difference that for screen instead of acrylic we will use water. I've been working on various stuff since then and finally my steps will be:

 1   Build software that recognizes blobs.
 2   Build software that projects a video composition which responds to the user's blobs.
 3  Build the sink with the IR lights (Many thanks to Ikbal for them!)
 4  Modify the PS3 Eye camera to read only IR light.
 5  Add the semi-transparent projection foil and the projector.
 6  Calibrate so the projection fits the user's input.

I'm currently at number 2. If it wasn't for a Quicktime Update (?!) I would probably be much further than that.

Now, firstly I'll try to make a simple functional software so I can go on with the construction and when I am done with it I'll return to enhance the projection software.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Multi-Touch Screens Research

The technology I chose to explore in the next project is the multi-touch screens, screens that recognize two or more "clicks" at the same time. Weird as it might sound, it is much more cheaper to build your own multi-touch screen rather than to buy one, since that would cost a few thousands. In my research I found that there is a whole community of DIY multi-touch screens' enthusiasts ( who since 2006 have build a great content with tons of information, "How-To"s and tutorials. That made me thinking "So what if I decided to do so?"

The disposable Multi-Touch technologies by now are explained and compared here. I spent some time looking after which table would be the best (robust and easy to build) to try implementing. I ended up with the FTIR (Frustrated Total Internal Reflection) technology which is also one of the most popular in this community.

The multi-touch screen with the FTIR technology works this way (quoting from here):
 "Infrared light is shined into the side of an acrylic panel (most often by shinning IR LEDs on the sides of the acrylic). The light is trapped inside the acrylic by internal reflection. When a finger touches the acrylic surface this light is “frustrated” causing the light to scatter downwards where it is picked up by an infrared camera."
Click to enlarge

So the camera that captures only IR light, when we touch the FTIR screen shows something like that:

Straight-forward and easily understandable.

The Screen

There are 2 ways to place the IR LEDs to light the acrylic. Either with soldering and wiring about 100 LEDs or by using a LED Ribbon. There is a very big difference in the cost between them but the cheaper one takes ages and requires familiarity with electronic stuff. I haven't make up my mind which one is the most efficient yet.

The Surface

Now is a whole lot of story, to create a surface that would push the acrylic only where our finger is (it won't stay pressed, and it would be very sensitive for cases of dragging etc). Thankfully, everything has already been done! So the surface of the table is constructed by the following materials in this order (click to enlarge):

Rear-projecion foil and Infrared blocking foil.. hm I'm not surprised that I don't understand what should I put there. But according to my research the best combination, should be something like:
  1. Polyester drafting film, 
  2. Vellum, 
  3. Silicone & Zylol with this technique, 
  4. 3/8th clear Acrylic

The cabinet
In the FTIR table, the IR light is captured by the IR camera and the projection is done with a front-side mirror, since the short-throw projectors are much more expensive. So the placement diagram is something like that (click to enlarge):

IR Capturing


The List
If we were to make a short list of what is needed we would have:

1. LED Ribbon (or soldered and wired LEDs)
2. Polyester drafting film, Vellum, Silicone & Zylol, clear Acrylic
3. IR Camera (PS3 Eye), floppy disk
4. PC: Core 2 Duo and 2 GB of memory
5. Short-throw projector (or home-theatre projector and a font-side mirror),  heat-absorbing glass
6. (Wooden) Cabinet

Thankfully, there's lots of free and good software for multi-touch tables available in the web.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Research Strategy

Last Tuesday we had to do another 5' presentation for the Research Class, this time about the Research Strategy we use. My minimalistic approach was this presentation:

The point was to be clear about my strategy and stay under 5' according to the informal brief we had. We didn't receive our feedback yet, but I thought it went well.. we'll see.

Now that I made up my mind about the concept of my final project, I will make use of this strategy for my research on the use of new media in the museums.

Friday, 27 November 2009

The One

Advertising vs Museology

A new project has just begun, an open-topic, individual project this time. For a long time now I've been seeking for my area of interest; From the huge field of new media what is it, that I love the most? <3

Firstly, I thought it was "the use of the new media for advertising", and I went after it, with my Literature Review project for the Research Class about The use of the New Media by Nike. It suited to me as I always appreciated advertising with smart concepts. But then, I visited the National History Museum and I was shocked! They had transformed the dull concept of a museum into an experience using media to educate the visitors about physics, geology and all! Learning is (most of the times) deadly boring, but it's our wealth! And NHM achieves education in such a pleasant way.

And then this period of time came when I was balancing between: "New Media and Advertising?" or "New Media in the Museums"? I had my issues to figure this out, I also had a talk with Dr. Mark and he was really helpful.. But still I felt like I was back where I began that I like the New Media.

A day to remember the 25th of November
I knew that I had to find my theme the soonest possible as after the Digital Greenwich we should say to our tutors what's the subject we would like to follow. On Wednesday we had a couple of free hours between two presentations of MA projects, so most of the students we hung around in the MA Space. We started talking and I asked them about the museums concept etc. Naekyoung told me about an iPhone application I could do for the museums and then I thought that I could also do installations for museums, with Arduino and maybe multi-touch screens.

I felt that "This was it!" and so it was proved:
 1  Education is much more ethical than Advertising
 2  Museums have an aesthetic level while in advertising it's almost an exception to meet an aesthetically correct advertisement or campaign.
 3  Fits in the concept of taking advantage of high-level technology and using it the benefit of people who don't have any (or very low) technological background.
 4  New Media into the Museums have endless possibilities, from iPhone applications to 3D projections and VR.
 5  The use of the New Media for the museums is a much more narrow field than the use of the New Media for Advertising, and this is probably good, as we live in the era of specialization.

The Project
The new project in the PG02 unit is to find a technology and experiment with. According to my concept I wanted to practise with the iPhone, Arduino (LED-boards in particular) and multi-touch screens. Martin suggested I choose to investigate only one of these technologies because the period of time I have is very short - true. I chose to do something with the multi-touch screens and I'm so excited with it.. Now I have to do a research on it, about the existing technologies etc. I hope it goes well this time.. the individual factor might help to it.

Digital Greenwich .-

Yesterday was the final presentation of Digital Greenwich. I wasn't satisfied it's a fact but I know that if I wanted to be proud for this project/presentation I should have done 10 times of what already did. Which I think was already more than my part anyway. Was it worthy (the angst and the time) to take this project personally? I gave it a chance TBH, to give my 100% so the presentation could be spectacular but didn't work. When it's 8 people, you cannot control it. Also, it's hard when you have to deal with people from different areas, a different way of thinking; many times we couldn't even understand each other. In my Bachelor degree it was much easier to communicate. Maybe because we were all from the same field.. we shared the same way of thinking or what. Am I glad that it's over? Yes I am.

Vamos Greenwich
Yesterday I sent an e-mail to Luke, Mr. Shaun's assistant, with the research I did around their council website, the review and suggestions for improvement (compared to other London's council-websites). Today Luke replied that he found it really interesting and they'll probably use it somehow and that made me fill a bit better about Digital Greenwich. He also said they really appreciated what we all did for their borough in general. In the end, maybe we Did (!) something for Greenwich.

Obladi oblada, life goes on lalala
My real concern about this project yesterday was that my mood, my temper to be good in my studies and all, was so screwed. =/ Thankfully Martin didn't waste time and introduced us to the next project. That helped me find my motivation for the course again.. Also Victor and I we've been thinking seriously, to improve our Mojaic project, as it's not much what we need to do, so it gets a good grade. I'm pissed off with C+ anyway! Obladi oblada life goes on lalalala and my individual project is (as Victor says) wicked !!!!!! =)