360 Car Demo
If you’re new to upLog, it’s an occasional blog post and email update from the workbench of Uncommon Projects in which we share development ideas from recent projects. In this post we’ll show a proof-of-concept we’ve been developing with our friends at Hush Studios. The goal was to create a working prototype to explore touchscreen and iPhone control of 3D rendered HD content.
Having developed interactive kiosks in the past, we’ve also grown interested in creating an extendable platform for quicker and cheaper development of common kiosk tasks. Currently a demo, we imagine a more fleshed out version of this platform working for Exhibitions, Museums, Retail and Architectural experiences.
A Little Biz
This past year, Uncommon Projects, was accepted into the Accelerator Entrepreneurship program. The mixture of classes and mentorship from successful entrepreneurs really got us thinking about our business model. We’re increasingly interested in augmenting the straight R&D work-for-hire we do with some products that we develop in-house. Until recently, most of our work has been one-off projects. But with work like Bikenik and work on products like gDitty and miShare we’re gaining more experience in the marketplace. This is both a natural progression and an exciting new field for us to explore. From a business perspective, the 360 Car Demo is a step closer to our goal of creating an affordable turnkey system that exhibition designers can skin and modify to suit their projects.
We’ve created interactive touchscreens for the Entrepreneurs Kiosks at The Museum of American Finance, the HD Video Kiosks for Panasonic’s Trick Nav and we built a multitouch surface for Brickhouse, which sadly never got used (welcome to R&D, ladies and gents). Our goal with the 360 Car Demo was to try to take some of this experience, modularize it into a software framework and update it with the latest developments from the tech front. Multitouch surfaces are now purchasable off-the-shelf, and screen technology continues to get bigger and cheaper. Four years ago, the code we wrote for Trick Nav needed a quadcore tower and high-end video card–it now runs on a Mac Mini. So the idea was to start sketching out an extendable platform with some custom software modules to address specific needs that clients have asked for–menuing systems, touch control, HD video playback, etc. Finally, we wanted to see what it felt like to use a device many of us now carry in our pockets (the iPhone) to interact with the beautiful high def content Hush was imagining.
iPhone and Cocoa
While the demo allows for both physical touch and iPhone interactivity, we were especially keen to test out the iPhone as a platform for screen-based interactivity. You know what? It turns out to be really fun to use your iPhone to spin a big, shiny car around. Users can manipulate car rotation, color, transparency, lighting and velocity, as well as selecting hot spots within the media for more information. Currently, the demo uses the iPhone for one way communication between user and content. Down the road, we imagine the device as a two way communication platform, with relevant content being sent or saved back to the user’s device. As I write here, we’ve been developing using XCode/Cocoa for a few years now and it’s a great development environment. It’s stable, fast and has low level access to multimedia control. It’s also turned out to be a lucky investment on our part as Apple continues to expand its marketshare and create whole new markets. XCode/Cocoa are the only real development option when creating software for OS X, the iPhone and recently announced iPad.
The 360 Car Demo is made up of the following elements
- Samsung 52″ LCD Display
- PQ Labs Multitouch Overlay
- Mac Mini with custom code
- iPhone with custom code
Collaborating with a team as talented as Hush was great. Not only are they a killer 3D and motion graphics house, but they have experience working in exhibition and retail design and “get” interactive deeply. Over the course of developing the demo, Hush and Uncommon came across some exiting new developments in this space. Here’s some links we used as inspiration and talking points.