Channels is a full-body immersive touch installation. Using natural gestures and organic user interfaces, a user can navigate through a virtual water scene by physically interacting with tanks of water — paddle, row, and float your way through space and time.
As an experience designer, one of the areas I’m interested in exploring is the concept of full-body immersion and full-body motion-based virtual worlds. In graduate school, my HCI research interests were focused on the emotional and social effects of physical movements in gaming and virtual worlds, and specifically with Channels, I wanted to experiment with the application of organic materials as digital media controllers.
Design & Development
Sit in a boat and experience being “on the water” by organically controlling your virtual environment with natural gestures. Paddling in the water with your hands controls your speed and direction as you explore a virtual water world. The faster you paddle, the faster you will glide forward through the virtual scene. You can also glide backwards in the scene by paddling in reverse. The left and right water buckets are individually programmed to respond to subtle changes in direction, mimicking the physics of a real boat.
I co-created Channels with fellow ITP student, Alvin Chang. We developed the arduino-based microcontroller circuit and the virtual water scene using Processing and OpenGL. Interaction Designer, Ginny Hung, created the graphic art and helped build the physical installation pieces. Total production time 3 weeks.
The installation was made open to the public for the ITP Winter Show 2010, attended by over 2,000 visitors, media and press.
One woman visitor wrote to us after the show to tell us about the impact our installation had on her:
“I don’t understand a bit about the technology but the aesthetic experience for me was one of the most significant in recent times. I felt as if I was back on a lake in Wyoming in the summer or walking by the river there in winter where there are no sounds at all except for a few ducks that managed to stay through the winter. Total peace. I want that whole arrangement in my house! It was truly beautiful.”
Press & Media:
Dec 27, 2010: Engadget “Water Buckets and rocking chair become spiffy interactive art projects” [article]
Dec 21, 2010: IEEE Spectrum “At NYU Show, Tech takes an artistic turn” [video]
Jan 14, 2011: Core77 “ITP Winter Show 2010 Gallery” [article]
Jan 14, 2011: Core77 “Channels” [gallery]