Working with Cohda Design on The Binary Furniture Project allowed us the opportunity to stretch the limits of what’s currently possible using motion capture. Using the idea of translating movement into rigid 3D forms as a starting point, we devised a means by which to offer control over a 3D design process to non-technical users.
Commencing with a series of Newcastle University-sponsored workshops, we devised a process by which to generate table structures using the 1960’s toy, Spirograph. We tracked the movement of the pencil and used the speed information gathered using motion capture to produce, in collaboration with AMAP in Sunderland, an extrusion of the Spirograph in which the width of the line was proportional to the speed; the slower the fatter, the faster the thinner!.. We ended up with something that looked a bit like this:
From here, the process was refined further and, working in close collaboration with a computer scientist, John Shearer, and an artist, Tom Schofield, the process was transposed to a (more portable) graphics tablet, which was able to track all the movement we needed – the only change being that now pressure provided the fourth dimension and produced the extrusion; the harder the fatter, the softer the thinner!
Using an interface designed by John and Tom, the resulting products were able to be rapid-protyped by project sponsor FOC or, in-keeping with Cohda’s eco-principles, digitally archived until such a time as the manufacturing processes become more economical.
This project culminated in a large, public design event which was held at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in October 2010 in which the user interactivity was a great hit (over 900 interactions) and the project has since gained worldwide attention.