Stella

Unity, Kinect, Interactive Installation

Preface

During my first term of my Masters of Digital Media program, me and several colleagues pitched the concept of creating a personal interactive experience to learn about the constellations. As part of the process, we were required to iterate quickly on the product in the span of 13 weeks. 

Initial Concept

The initial pitch we had was to utilize as much existing hardware as possible at the school. With that in mind, we hoped to utilize four projectors to create a floor to ceiling projection. We made a concept video that shows the mood and the big picture vision we wanted to have. However, that vision was too ambitious, so we quickly made plans as to what a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) would look like.

Work in Progress

One of the large pieces of technology, other than utilizing projectors was the control interface. Originally we intended to utilize a Wii Remote as the primary device to control Stella. However, we quickly pivoted to use a Kinect instead as it would allow a more fluid and natural experience for users. We quickly found out that we needed a relatively recent computer to run Kinect SDK 2.0. Furthermore, the work between Kinect and Unity was unproven and a large hurdle to conquer. 

 

In parallel, other team members began work on art style, concept art and branding while the technology was being proven.

Final Prototype

As work continued, we began finalizing the control and fine-tuning the response of the system to the users hand movement. The prototype we completed involves the use of 3 projectors, a Kinect unit and a PC. Sound and other lighting was installed to enhance the mood and add additional layers to this experience. For this initial prototype, we strove to complete one constellation – the big dipper – as a proof of concept to the larger idea of a experience that allows children and adults alike to experience the wonder and magic of the constellations together.