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Overview

The Water Light Skin is a hardware and software integrated interaction solution, which could turn any smooth surface into a touch screen. Just like a soft touch of water, the waves are the response to your actions.

Rain Of Cherry Blossoms is a motion sensing music game based on the water light skin. Players are asked to touch the flying Cherry Blossoms before they land on the lake surface in accordance with the music rhythm.

This project is an outcome of 4 weeks hackthon of creative design. Worked as a group leader, I contributed to Unity3D programming and installation design.

 

The Role

Unity3D Developer and Interaction Designer

My lovely team members: 

Graphic Designer: Shen Yan, Zhang Yujie

Hardware Developer: Wei Xin, Xie Xudong

Music Director: Zhang Hong

 

The Brainstorming

Our group was allowed to select from hardwares and make a piece of installation. Music fans like us, we came up with an idea about music.

 

The Visioning

Our inspiration came from nature, the rhythm of rain pouring upon a peaceful lake. The finger tap or hand touch can be looked as rain drops, causing a series of water waves.

 

The Iteration

Version I was a touch desk with elastic translucency surface. Kinect was set to collect depth map of surface. A projector was used to presented the scene.

Players push or tap the surface from the top view.

When we tested this version, we found it hard for kinect to collect information within such a short distance.

 

Version II, we changed the orientation of the surface to lengthen the distance between kinect and surface.

Players push ot tap the surface from the side view.

Another problem came up. The area of kinect recognition was too large to focus on the surface. Or we needed to calibrate each time after moving the device, if we used a mask of coordinate to solve the area problem.

In the end, we turned to our mentor for help and updated our hardware, using a more powerful infrared sensor instead of kinect.

 

Version III was more powerful, any surface, no matter it was elastic or hard, translucency or not, could be turned into a touch screen. ( We choosed a ground glass wall in the video )

The infrared sensor sensed hand actions in or out 10 mm above the surface, in order to avoid some adverse effects of tough surface part. The projector could be set on either side of the surface.

 

The Development

After testing the interaction method, I developed the music game with Unity3D and NGUI plugin. I built the whole game mechanism and a script of music editor so that music director could use it to set rhythm dot and the landing positions of flying Cherry Blossoms.

 

The Outcome

 

The Review

As we saw in the video, it seemed to be lack of sensitivity, which could be solved through lowering the infred sensor, since we set the sensor 10 mm above the surface for a bigger range of surfaces selection.

This was my first project about hardware. The whole design procedure and development was full of inspirations. Here are some takeaways:

1. One vision can be realized in many ways, don’t let poor coding skill (I have to admit that is an often used excuse) block your inspirations.

2. Keep iterating, sometimes a little change can improve the usablity effectively.

3. Design with knowing the restriction, that means research must be done before design, especially unfamiliar devices are involved.