Reefs on The Edge Interactive Multitouch Table Prototype Demo at Web Directions South 2011

On October 13-14 2011 at the Web Directions South 2011 Conference, me and my project collaborator, Phil Gough had a chance to exhibit out interactive multitouch table. This work is meant to be part of a larger installation called Reefs on The Edge that amis to communicate the effect of raise in sea temperature in coral lifespan. This multitouch table is our research project for our last semester in University of Sydney’s Master of Interaction Design and Electronic Art course.

RotE Prototype Demo

Initially, we were aiming at communicating the intended message in a more engaging fashion. We then designed how that information can be presented, how the scientific data can be communicated effectively, what are the means available to do it and so forth. We then decided to create a multitouch table with tangible objects that the audience can use to control the abstract visual that simulates how the coral grows in various sea surface temperature.

We then had a chance to show the first prototype demo in the Web Directions South 2011, a perfect place to showcase this work to a larger audience as well as doing some impromptu user testing. The result was fantastic. We had positive feedbacks from people who played with it. Not only that, without even having to promote this table by playing it, we had people come by themselves and actually interact with the work. I’ve seen people come and say to their friends saying “I wanna check that one!” More over, some people even come for more than once.

Me and Phil sometimes would happily explain to the audience what is this work about, but at other times, we prefer to stay back and see how people play with it and see how they would come up with their own conclusion of what is this they’re touching and seeing. It is a fascinating experience, seeing people still play with it without even have an idea of what it is.

One of the main focal point that we want to see in this prototype is how the object used by people. We went back and forth on our design process before we came up with this small, beautiful object that is affordable for people to touch and use. And they did use it. People would came and just randomly touching it, moving it and rotate it to see how it affects the animation. In conclusion: this object does actually work.

Of course, we still have some work to do from software point of view, notably the accuracy of the fiducial marker detection and color changing animation. But as an interactive work that was meant to be engaging for people, I can happily conclude that this one is a massive success.

Here are some more pictures from that exhibition:

note: at the end of the 2 days conference, I’ve had 3 people asking me “hey, is this Microsoft Surface?”. That’s a compliment, considering we made this from scratch in Phil’s garage.

Have a great weekend everybody 🙂




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