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A boy’s own guide to building a giant creepy eyeball that follows you round the room

You will need:

  • 1 x PC (which I assume you already have)
  • 1 x Microsoft Kinect (about £120)
  • 1 x Puffersphere (worth quite a lot, but you can hire them from Pufferfish)

Total cost: more than a few week’s pocket money…

There was a lot of excitement in the Technology Studio this week when a nice man with a van dropped off three large flight cases containing something rather special: a spherical display system called a Puffersphere. Pufferfish, the company which invented them, has been kind enough to lend us one for a week.

Things got even better when the man from Pufferfish turned up the following day, helped us put it together and took me through a slightly mind bending set of information about how to use the thing. He brought us some donuts though, so that made it a lot easier to deal with.

Although the brief I was given was to come up with something we could use as part of our upcoming appearance at the 2011 Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Annual Conference, the inner geek took over and we quickly decided the first project would be a massive eyeball.

To get an image onto the Puffersphere you start off with a panoramic image and use a polar distortion to get it into a form that the projector’s super-special Super Umami lens can then display onto the inside of the sphere. Before and after look like this:

world-original            world-polar

I’ll post some more technical detail on this later – but the short version is that the top of the origin rectangle ends up as the centre point of the circle, and the bottom of the rectangle ends up as the outside of the circle.

Once you have the image it’s a simple matter to get it into a full screen WPF app, which can then be displayed on the sphere. The centre of the image ends up as the top of the sphere, and the edges converge on the bottom. This means that to get the image on the sphere rotating in the horizontal plane is as easy as applying a WPF rotate transform to the image.

For the next step, the Kinect. The process for getting this up and running on the PC, using OpenNI is well documented elsewhere, so I won’t repeat it. The OpenNI framework includes a user generator that uses the feed from the Kinect’s depth camera to detect individuals within the scene. Once that’s all in place, you can effectively convert the real-world co-ordinates of the user (given in cartesian co-ordinates) into polar coordinates, and use the angle to rotate the eye correctly.

As has been pointed out – not the most ground breaking use of a Kinect ever, but it does show how putting two pieces of technology can be combined to create something new, interesting and – although not immediately apparent – with genuine commercial applications.

For the interested, I’m keeping the code I write for this in the Earthware Github account. You can run this without having a Puffersphere, but you will need a Kinect. I’ll be putting up some more posts in the next few weeks about this and other cool and useful things we do with the sphere and Kinect.

We also took some video of the eye in action:

After we posted the video, we were very happy to see that it was picked up by Engadget. Many of the comments echoed something the more geeky among us had been thinking from the start: “we want the eye of Sauron”. And we’re nothing if not responsive to our customer’s requirements:

@jon_george1

29 Responses to “A boy’s own guide to building a giant creepy eyeball that follows you round the room”

  1. Waldemar Said on

    It´s a nice Hack for the Kinect. We have a german Virtual Reality Portal. And we report every day about Kinect Hacks and other VR stuf. We want to report also about your hack, you can find it here: live4d.de

  2. Waldemar Said on

    Hey guys how can I put the trackback to our website? Can you please do that ? Here the url: http://live4d.de/index.php?/XBox-360-Kinect-Sensor-Hacks-Blog/Hacks/kinect-hack-riesen-auge-verfolgt-bei-bewegung.html

  3. Kinect used to control DIY Eye of Sauron | Gadgets Geekly Said on

    [...] of Lord of the Rings are going to love this new way to use the Kinect. The Technology Studio in UK recently uploaded a video of a giant eyeball that used the Kinect’s motion sensors to [...]

  4. Kinect used to control the Eye of Sauron | MenReport Said on

    [...] [...]

  5. Kinect meets a Pufferfish display, produces wonderfully creepy all-seeing eye (video) | New Digital Tech News Said on

    [...]  |  The Technology Studio  | Email [...]

  6. Kinect meets a Pufferfish display, produces wonderfully creepy all-seeing eye (video) | Innovative Technology Updates Said on

    [...]  |  The Technology Studio  | Email [...]

  7. Kinect Puffersphere Has its Eye on You - Technabob Said on

    [...] guys from The Technology Studio have a quick description of how they made it work here, and you can even grab the code over at Github – assuming you have a Puffersphere to display [...]

  8. Dis-Kinect » Blog Archive » DIY Eye of Sauron Said on

    [...] nerdy folks over at The Technology Studio in the UK have created a freaky eye that follows you as you cross the room. Apparently, it’s [...]

  9. All Seeing Kinect Eye! | Nerd Junkies Said on

    [...] Source: The Technology Studio [...]

  10. Oko Saurona działało dzięki Kinectowi! [wideo] Said on

    [...] na przygotowanie takiego urządzenia można znaleźć pod tym adresem. Potrzebne są [...]

  11. Kinect-Hack: aurons Auge sieht alles! | Rebelgamer.de Wir zeigen's dir! Said on

    [...] der vorbeigeht. Echt abgefahren! Wenn ihr so etwas selber bauen wollt, dann folgt diesem Link: thetechnologystudio.co.uk. Nun aber viel Spaß mit dem [...]

  12. Kinect meets a Pufferfish display, produces wonderfully creepy all-seeing eye (video) | ryanbamos Said on

    [...]  |  The Technology Studio  | Email [...]

  13. Kinect meets a Pufferfish display, produces wonderfully creepy all-seeing eye (video) | Tech - Info Said on

    [...]  |  The Technology Studio  | Email [...]

  14. Kinect meets a Pufferfish display, produces wonderfully creepy all-seeing eye (video) | Movie Bites Said on

    [...]  |  The Technology Studio  | Email [...]

  15. Freakish Kinect Eyeball Hack Follows You Around the Room [Video] | That Soviet Guy Said on

    [...] together a large, spherical Puffersphere display (duh) with some custom software. They created a how-to as well, should you want to frighten children or coworkers with a giant, human-tracking eye. [...]

  16. ‘Bola Mata’ Kinect Ini Terus Menatap Anda [VIDEO] :: ProRebel Said on

    [...] menatap sampai anda keluar ruangan. Technology Studio si-pencipta bahkan memberitahu bagaimana mereka melakukannya dan berbagi kode-nya untuk anda yang ingin menjadikan ‘bola mata’ sebagai proyek akhir [...]

  17. In Flex We Trust » The Eye That The Kinect Created!!! Said on

    [...] Find out how to do it your self here [...]

  18. Kinect Hack Of The Day - TDW Geeks Said on

    [...] feel like somebody’s watching me… and maybe it’s because of this kinect hack, Puffesphere, by The Technology [...]

  19. Freakish Kinect Eyeball Hack Follows You Around The Room | Gizmodo Australia Said on

    [...] together a large, spherical Puffersphere display (duh) with some custom software. They created a how-to as well, should you want to frighten children or coworkers with a giant, human-tracking eye. [technabob] [...]

  20. Daniel Said on

    Fascinating. Impressive display technology.

    As a much cheaper suggestion, and just as unnerving, how about an LED scanner (much like a sci-fi Cylon eye) driven by the Kinect? Also indicating it is “seeing and following” the user or anyone walking into the room.

    Something most could afford probably. And scare off intruders.

  21. Eye of Sauron Kinect-Hack : misterhonk.de Said on

    [...] von The Technology Studios, die kompletten Projektcode auf Github zur Verfügung gestellt haben und hier erklären wie es funktioniert. via technabob honki · 21.03.2011 Technik, Eye, Hack, [...]

  22. Globo ocular com Kinect segue você aonde você for | Gizmodo Brasil Said on

    [...] unindo um display esférico Puffersphere a um software especial – e um Kinect, é claro. Eles criaram um tutorial também, caso você queira assustar crianças ou colegas de trabalho com um olho gigante que segue [...]

  23. Kinect hack uses Pufferfish display to make creepy Eye of Sauron | Kinectola Said on

    [...] Read more at The Technology Studio. [...]

  24. Kinect + Fancy Spherical Display = Giant Movement-Tracking Eyeball | House of Mods Said on

    [...] UK web design firm The Technology Studio. The spherical display is a (reportedly very expensive) commercial device called a PufferSphere. [...]

  25. People-tracking orb demo makes us want to build our own | House of Mods Said on

    [...] Earlier this week, we came across a video of an orb-based eyeball that would follow you throughout the room, based on data gathered from a Kinect sensor. Try as we might, we couldn’t find much more than the video, but it seems that the guys behind the project have spoken up in a recent blog post. [...]

  26. People-tracking orb demo makes us want to build our own « Black Hat Security Said on

    [...] Earlier this week, we came across a video of an orb-based eyeball that would follow you throughout the room, based on data gathered from a Kinect sensor. Try as we might, we couldn’t find much more than the video, but it seems that the guys behind the project have spoken up in a recent blog post. [...]

  27. Andrew Said on

    Hello,

    Can you please say how much the Puffersphere costs?

    Thanks!

  28. nerdbastards.com | The Eye of Sauron – That is One Creepy Eye Said on

    [...] [...]

  29. admin Said on

    For information on the Puffersphere please visit http://www.pufferfishdisplays.co.uk

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