Trackmate :: 5 ways to get started from adam kumpf on Vimeo.

Trackmate is the inspiration for this project, partly because – building on the previous success of ReacTIVision – they’ve done a good job helping make it clear how people can get started, even if they’re new to this.

The mouse is not all that interesting as an invention. When people first saw mice, in fact, they typically weren’t terribly impressed, and often simply went back to their preferred non-keyboard input, the joystick. But destroy the novelty of the mouse, give it to half the population of the world and wait a couple of decades, and fantastic things start to happen.

See also: the knob, which is basically a simple hack for changing resistance in a circuit.

So, what could happen if we take novel interfaces now and try to accelerate what you do with them? That’s what’s starting to take place with tangible, multi-touch, and augmented interfaces, with the help of shared code tools (OpenFrameworks, Processing, ActionScript), shared libraries and trackers (ReacTIVision, the TUIO protocol, and LusidOSC/Trackmate), and communities like the fantastic NUI Group.

But enough about reading about this stuff and/or working alone. We’re going to try a new experiment in which we get lots of folks building this stuff – experienced users, relatively inexperienced users, your friends – and getting as quickly as possible into the business of actually trying apps, especially for the visual and musical performance stuff that we love.

Now, you may not have folks near you who are comfortable with code or have any idea what the heck we’re talking about. But readers of CDM and fellow hackers will join up on the Internet leading up to and around June 6. We’ve got a nice, fast Internet connection in New York, and we’re setting up some tools to help us share video streams, code we create, and to allow informal text chat.

Here’s how to get involved and join us.

Visual inspiration from the Trackmate project.

Head to for all the details. (If you’re interested in experimenting with in-development noisepages blogs and networking features as you make stuff, you may – ahem – find that registration is open.)

1. Sign up.

NYC: In the New York area, we still have some room at our special New York Internet Week event at New Work City, a coworking space and awesomeness incubator. RSVP for the in-person hackday, see the guest list on Meetup, or if you (or friends) just want to come to the party, let us know that!

Internationally: Most of you live On The Internet, though, so if you’re planning to get involved – or even to get a few friends / local hackers into it – let us know. June 6 is the “official” date, so feel free to use that as an excuse to schedule then, but really any time will work. (I’ll be working on some tests and prototypes for the full week of June 1.)

RSVP around the world

2. Get supplies, do a little planning.

This is a cheap, cheap, easy project. You basically need a surface, a webcam, a printer with paper, a light source, and some objects to track. From there, you can get fancier, which is all the fun.

The two elements that can be key to success are LED lighting strips and a good webcam. I’ve written up more details on the hackday blog on how to get these. (Not sure about shipping outside the US, so feel free to let us know about that in comments.) You can always make your own strip of LEDs and the webcams are easy to find, so you’ve still got time to gear up.

Getting Your Parts for the Tangible Surface Hackday

You’ll also see links to the two Trackmate Instructables that are our muse and inspiration for this project.

3. Hack!

Stay tuned to this site and for details on shared video, chat, and code, and where to contribute. I’ll also be starting some tests and will blog those, too. But the idea is, we can have effectively a virtual lab that brings together the knowledge around the planet.

The build itself is relatively easy, so the idea is:

  • Test: Get something working and tested.
  • Design form: See how creative you can be with the housing and tangible objects. Remember, anything you can stick a tracking sticker on can work as an object. So we’ll see what may work for practicality (interfaces that work well for running live visuals and can fit in a backpack) or unusual design (weird objects and housings).
  • Design software: It’s also relatively easy to feed data into tools like Processing, Max, VDMX, and the like. So the real challenge of this will be to start experimenting with different tools for which these interfaces are useful.

Really, you can use whatever tools you want – I’m eager to see how different trackers and environments work out. But I’ll have some suggestions leading up to the event in case that’s overwhelming, and I’ll personally be using Processing for prototyping.

June 6 will
be the big day and party that brings it together, but if you need to schedule on a diferent day, for it.

I’m really looking forward to this. We’re learning how to do this, but I hope this first experiment will lead to more. Let us know if you’re interested or have any questions or comments.

All the info: 

Full Event Details (NYC)

(note that ReacTIVision + TUIO will work with the same physical design, too – more on recent updates to their software and the upcoming TUIO2 soon)


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