by Samia @ 9:48 am 23 February 2011


I wanted to create an interaction that was  physically reactive — given that the kinect requires you to engage physically, it made sense to me to bring the interaction off of the screen and into a real space. Golan pointed me towards Marie Sester’s Access project, which does exactly that, engage an inbetween space with a spotlight that automatically follows people.


There were lots of techincal challenge in this project for me — getting the right drivers, learning about working with hardware and sending information over serial, dmx protocol, as well as working with the kinect, (very, very) basic image processing, blob tracking.

I approached the project from two ends, first, working with a strobe light (which has only 4 channels) and blob tracking separately, and then finally meeting in the middle so that the blob position controlled the light position of a moving light.

In the end math got in the way a little bit, instead of calculating the position of where the lights should pan and tilt to using trig, I created a grid over the kinect data, and plotted the light movement to points, which was conceptually easier for me to understand. It works, but there’s some choppy-ness.


  1. Hi Samia, please get that blog post & video up soon. Below are the comments from the crit pads:

    Perhaps slow down a little, machine gun words. Good presentation. Good short demo video. Very good “qucik and dirty” solution to approximate the depth via a grid viewed on an angle

    Great intro/summary sentence! Definitely. And I appreciate that she showed the motivation for her work in a straightforward way and admitted that parts have been done before. Pretty cool idea, and I am really impressed you got it!

    What a cool concept. Even though it doesn’t work quite right, it still looks great and it was a super ambitious project. Agreed. Go go gadget technical daring. Also, interfacing with DMX is nontrivial. You should be proud. Starting with a simpler dmx controlled device was a really good idea, too. ==golan, nice desktop background.

    I’m really delighted that you learned how to control DMX via code. This is very reusable knowledge. I hope you’ll consider doing computational control of light again, for your final project. You’ll need to spend some concentrated thought on the 3D geometry issues.

    [Golan: Calibration is a very important topic — you’ve inspired me to organize a mini-lecture about it.]

    I’m pretty impressed with the amount you were able to get done.

    Really cool that you tried something so different from other work that you’ve done. Looks like you did a great job stepping up to the challenge, especially given that you worked independently on this.

    There’s nothing wrong with massive hacks. What matters is the final result, not the cleanliness of the path used to get there. And the final result was awesome.

    You should VJ a dance party with your DMX skills.

    It sounds like you’ve learned a ton – this is great. I imagine you’ll be able to use this DMX stuff in future projects too!

    You have a good presentation and a good project, slow down a bit with your delivery, no need to rush through it. Very cool that you set out to tackle all this for the first time by yourself – and that you succeeded.

    Good job! I think it’s uber cool.

    It looks great, really impressive workarounds.

    I think your solution built out of techniques you did know how to do (blob detection, background subtraction) is clever. Good job breaking this down into different problems, it gives us a very clear picture of your process.

    I agree, the process breakdown was well documented.

    Comment by Golan Levin — 23 February 2011 @ 12:24 pm
  2. Greta video!

    Comment by Dan Wilcox — 26 February 2011 @ 3:44 pm

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