Sensing human needs
A new motion tracking system makes boring walls and tables fun and playful.
That motion sensing is continually evolving and giving rise to more enjoyable content is testament to the fact that computing has become futuristic. This has made interaction with machines realistic, and taken entertainment past gaming.
A digital media firm from Pune, called Touchmagix, built on this thought after its founder derived inspiration from the Tom-Cruise starrer Minority Report, where the array of devices caught his fancy. Anup Tapadia, 24, now the CEO of the company, has spearheaded the development of a system that makes regular floors and walls interactive through motion tracking technology.
Tapadia, a graduate from the University of California, founded Touchmagix two years ago and has released two product lines over time — Motionmagix and Magixtouch. The former has floor and wall consoles, for which there are already more than 100 games available in the market.
The assembly is different from that of a regular video game console — here, you connect a sensor to your computer, and project the output on a wall or floor using a projector. "The software that runs the programs resides on your computer through the sensor we provide," says Tapadia.
There are already football games available on Motionmagix, but Tapadia prefers labelling those programs as content. "We provide different application interfaces on which third-party developers can design their programs. This is why we prefer not to limit our entertainment products to games only," says Tapadia.
The Magixtouch system, on the other hand, makes tables and kiosks interactive and is more used for commercial purposes. This system has a multitouch capacitive film sensor that converts any surface into a touchscreen device, like a "large iPod".
The product has been aimed at shop owners who can paste it on shopfronts, behind the glass windows, to showcase their product catalogue. A simple back projection assembly makes the system interactive, or if pasted on the screen of an LCD television, makes it fully touchscreen, which passersby can scroll through. "The sensor can convert any surface into a multi-point interactive device so more than one person can work on it," says Tapadia. "And Magixtouch, too, can be used to play games," he adds.
While operating systems such as those of Macintosh and Windows support Touchmagix drivers, video game consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox don't. Tapadia likes to believe his technology is more commercial grade, and that motion sensing devices for gaming consoles are for restrictive backgrounds only. "Our system can be set up outdoors, too, in malls, shops, etc. On a video game console, you can compete with four other players; at one time, our system can manage up to 15 players," says Tapadia. Even so, the company has made home installations and believes that their main focus should always remain making technology easily accessible to everyone.
Much creative scope
Touchmagix, Tapadia believes, is a fusion of art and technology, and there's a lot that can be done with this media in terms of creativity. "For a Castrol campaign, we designed a game where the user whose bike consumed the most cans of oil won. So word spread about Castrol, and people had fun, too," he says.
Touchmagix is looking to collaborate with software companies for content development. "In this industry, ideas also come from customers. That, I think, is the pinnacle of interactivity," Tapadia says.
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