Emergency Telecommunications by Smoke

by luke @ 7:50 am 29 March 2012

In a remote data center, advanced computer vision software watches a live video feed looking for smoke signals emanating from a distant emergency signal box and is called upon to order rations for two feckless explorers, lost in the woods and famished.

The premise was to build a hypothetical communications link between an area of poor phone reception with a cell tower using smoke signals and a telephoto lens.

Although the outcome is speculative, everything in this video is real except that we loaded prerecorded video into Max rather than setting up a live video stream to monitor. A Max patch performing basic color analysis on the footage looked for particular colors of smoke: red, red/blue, or blue. When a particular signal was detected, it used a really super screen-automation scripting environment called Sikuli which dialed the number to papa john’s in Skype complete with the cool animation. The call recording was a real conversation (although it was a papa john’s in mountain view, CA–the only one open at the time we were creating this. Perhaps his patience to stay on the line was due to regular robotic pizza calls from silicon valley….)

By Craig and Luke

1 Comment

  1. “I had all of these left over smoke bombs and he was out in the woods on another project.”
    This is the bleakest thing I’ve seen since The Road.
    This is the best video documentation so far in the course+1+1
    I like that the coordinates, not the robot voice was the deal-breaker.
    hahaha this is next level prank calling. would be cool if the computer was a bit more complex and could pause or respond accordingly or something. AWESOME
    I like the video. it’s so funny.
    +10 for the video documentation.
    Awesome, what did you imagine the water and shelter buttons doing?
    Impressive combination of technology to quickly pull together a very interesting idea. I love the use of an old communication medium—smoke—to interact with a computer. Great concept.
    please add details (e.g. Sekuli) into the blog post which help explain that this is real.
    Great performance in the video! It’s a great project, even if it isn’t totally practical.
    I love the performance of it a lot and the tiny little story factor in the project!

    Great video
    Best text to speech voice ever.
    I’m disappointed that you didn’t get a pizza. But otherwise good.
    That was totally amazing. You guys know how to make a great video.
    I’m very interested in the ordering of the pizza part.

    Comment by admin — 29 March 2012 @ 11:42 am

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