Here’s some documentation of a project we finished this spring at the university. It’s a project for a course in interface design.

Our group (Aku Meriläinen, Danilo Mascarenhas, Marjukka Parkkinen and Matti Niinimäki) decided to create a multi-user interface that would allow a group of people to work together or compete in creating some sort of a moving collage. At some point in the planning process the idea of communism and propaganda came to surface, so we decided to go with that idea. We experimented with different input devices and visual styles, but eventually this is what came out of it.

I’d like you to meet The Interactive Propaganda Generator. It’s designed to have two different sides or “teams” – the communists and the capitalists – that you can control with different input devices to produce a collage of the two sides shooting different items and symbols at each other. The scene consists of three layers: a changeable background, two characters (one for each side) and the propaganda-tubes. Here are the controls explained:

Control 1 – ReacTIVision fiducial tracking

  • The characters are selected and moved around on the screen by using paper dolls on a glass table
  • You can change the bodies and heads of the characters.
  • Included are all your favourite capitalist and communist icons from Ronald McDonald to Che Guevara
  • The paper dolls have fiducial symbols attached to their backside and the camera under the table tracks the ID and the position of the symbol
  • Tracking is done with ReacTIVision software

Control 2 – PlayStation2 Dance Pad

  • You can move the capitalist propaganda-tube around the screen with the dance pad
  • One button turns the tube on/off
  • Two buttons for changing the ammunition of the tube (missiles, bibles, money)
  • Two buttons for changing the background image
  • One button for activating the speech option for the capitalist character

Control 3 – PlayStation2 Dual Shock Controller

  • Some controls as the dance pad, but for the communist side

Control 4 – Audio Input

  • A microphone picks up the voices of the users and when the speech option is activated (from the dance pad or dual shock controller) the characters on screen will open and close their mouths based on the sound input

Here’s the hardware setup. Click the image for details.
All programming done with Quartz Composer. I could release the .qtz file but it’s not really useful to anyone because it depends on a very specific setup. Email me if you’re interested in details.

And finally some video. Unfortunately, we don’t have any better footage of the system in action but hopefully you’ll get some idea.