This is MIT Media Lab’s open house and we show our latest demos, ideas, research. Adam Kumpf impressed all of us with the Trackmate initiative, an open source system he designed to create an inexpensive, do-it-yourself tangible tracking system.
For over 20 years researchers have been looking at ways to go beyond the mouse and keyboard to interact with computers. One of the most promising areas has been tangible user interfaces; physical objects directly coupled with digital information. These new interfaces have typically required expensive technologies and complex installation procedures, limiting them to the context of specialized research labs and museums.
Trackmate is an open source initiative to create an inexpensive, do-it-yourself tangible tracking system. The Trackmate Tracker allows any computer to recognize tagged objects and their corresponding position, rotation, and color information when placed on a surface. Trackmate sends all object data via LusidOSC (a protocol layer for unique spatial input devices), allowing any LusidOSC-based application to work with the system.
Adam designed a special barcode system that allows the object to be detected when rotated. It is pretty neat as it allows not only to distinguish between objects (280 trillion unique IDs are possible), but to be able to identify their rotation.
This opens a world of application and my next project will make use of this brilliant technology. The project is open source and its components can be downloaded here.