Microsoft commissioned AllofUs Design to produce an installation piece for their ReMix 2008 conference events. One of the aims of the installation was to showcase the capabilities of Microsoft's WPF/Silverlight technologies.

The 'Interactive Canvas' compirises of three main interface elements: a giant Video Wall, a Proximity Sensor Array, and a Drawing Kiosk. It was installed in the main hall of the 'Remix UK 2008' venue, for visitors to enjoy.

The Video Wall depicts a steadily scrolling 'landscape', onto which messages and drawings created by event attendees are superimposed.

The Drawing Kiosk provides the means by which a visitor can create and submit a message/drawing to the Video Wall. The user interacts with the Kiosk using a Light Pen. The Drawing Kiosk presents the user with two options, either they can create a Message Bubble or they make a Gestural Drawing.

If they opt to make a Message Bubble the Kiosk then displays a selection of previously created Message Bubbles. By touching an existing Message Bubble a new bubble is created and attached to the parent bubble (thereby creating a message thread, or conversation). By touching empty space an unattached Message Bubble is created. In either case the user can then draw or write something inside the new bubble and submit it.

A user can also opt to make a Gestural Drawing. Gestural Drawings are not constrained inside 'bubbles', instead they appear on the landscape as dynamic, colourful trails (the type of trail changes according to the underlying 'landscape').

The final element of the 'Interactive Canvas' is the Proximity Sensor Array. This is a strip of proximity sensors, installed underneath the entire length of the video display. The sensors provide the 'Interactive Canvas' with data on where people are positioned in front of the Video Wall. Thereby, the video wall is made to respond locally the to people in front of it. For example, Message Bubbles will begin to appear, and get bigger (moving from background to foreground), as a person approaches the wall.

My Contribution to the Project

I worked as part of the development team at 'All Of Us' for the duration of the project. I worked alongside Mark Hauenstein and Tim Diacon, in developing the software components needed for the installation's control program. My main tasks were to develop the Database Manager and Sensor Manager components.

The Database Manager handles the querying and retrieval of dynamic content (e.g. the Message Threads and Gestural Drawings submitted by users).

The Sensor Manager handles the retrieval, interpretation and analysis of the proximity sensor data (this data is then used to make the Video Wall's visuals respond dynamically to the users moving in front of it).

I used Visual C#, WPF and MySQL in the development of these components.

Further info:
AllofUs 'Interactive Canvas' project page
AllofUs 'Interactive Canvas' development Blog