ITP Spring Show 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2-6pm & Monday, May 10, 5-9pm

Alvin Chang
Ginny Hung
Suzanne Kirkpatrick

Suzanne Kirkpatrick, Alvin Chang, Ginny Hung

Experience the serenity of nature by moving through scenes of glassy water and early morning mists, as you make your way across a water channel.

Introduction to Computational Media,Introduction to Physical Computing

"Channels" is a full-body immersion installation in which you can navigate through a virtual water scene by physically interacting with tanks of water. Sit in a boat and experience being on the water by organically controlling your virtual environment with natural gestures -- paddle, row, and float your way through space and time.

Most virtual exploration programs don’t really give you a sense of space. When you move forward, you’re clicking or pushing the “up” button. Well, this forces you to perform a physical activity in order to move in a virtual space. And that physical activity is something very intuitive, especially if you’ve ever waded through water or rowed a boat.

We just listened to Ford Cochran from National Geographic talk about bringing other people into worlds where they cannot go themselves. We think this would be a step in that direction to allow people to feel as if they are in another world, with physical control of that world.

This creation, of course, comes at a time when Microsoft has released its Kinect system, which is so all-encompassing. But what they lack is a physical response from the physical interaction. We want to overcome that by actually letting users touch the water and push it backward, allowing them to feel forward movement on their hands in an organic way.

Our target audience is people who want to connect to nature, people who want to feel a sense of tranquility and serenity, and people who want to control their environment through physical and organic touch.

User Scenario
The user sits on a seat inside of a small boat between two water tanks, in front of a 6' x 6' wall projection. The user places his/her hands and arms inside the tanks and pushes the water gently in a front to back direction. As the user moves the water with his/her hands, this will determine how fast the user navigates through the virtual water scene and the direction the user goes in the scene.

Along the way, the user may encounter occasional objects in the water, such as floating ducks, cattails or lily pads, or around the water, such as groves of trees and flying birds. To give the rower a sense of space in the screen, some of the objects, e.g. lily pads, move away from the center as the user rows to that area, almost as if his/her body or boat is pushing those pads away. The user can choose whether he/she wants to paddle closer to these objects, or continue on the water without disturbing these objects. Sounds are also a crucial part of this project. Water sounds coming from the tanks, or sound effects, will be amplified through speakers.

The user sits on a seat between two water tanks, in front of a 6' x 6' wall projection. The water tanks are the primary controllers of the virtual scene. We need approximately 6 x 6 foot space for this installation, and a wall or screen for visual projection.

We want to focus on the physical form factor especially, so that people feel comfortable when seated in the "boat". People are different sizes and heights, and we want children to be able to participate as well, so we are aiming for the average measurements in our physical placement of the seat and water tanks.