Joaquim Rocha
Published on

The world’s 1st interactive installation to use Open Source skeleton tracking

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    Joaquim Rocha
  • Principal Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft

Edu and I, proud members of the Igalia Interactivity team, spent the last week in Berlin for the culmination of an interesting project: an interactive installation in the Museum für Kommunikation.

The museum commissioned the Berlin’s interaction/design Studio Kaiser Matthies to create an installation so the studio created the concept and teamed up with us to develop the technical part. The installation’s purpose is to show different forms of communication and the concept is very simple: When a user is detected in the “action zone”, an actor shows up in a screen and performs a salutation; the user is supposed to do the same salutation and receives a positive feedback if it was performed well or a negative feedback otherwise. Examples of gestures are the Japanese bow or waving a kiss.

[Pictures of the salutations installation in the Museum für Kommunikation, Berlin][1]
Salutations installation in the Museum für Kommunikation, Berlin

The screen in the right side shows a live video of users so they can compare their gestures with the ones expected from another person’s perspective.

For user detection and to know where their skeleton’s joints are, we used Skeltrack. We also used OpenCV on top of it in order to track more complex salutations, such as the US East Coast hand’s sign. As for the rest of the stack, we used a minimal Debian, Clutter and GStreamer with many mechanisms to make it robust in case of failure and all this running from a USB stick.

This means that the software used in this installation is completely Open Source and more importantly, it is the world’s first interactive installation that uses Open Source skeleton tracking. We are also going to release the very application’s source code once we have time to release it.

We would like to thank Studio Kaiser Matthies for the opportunity of having such an important project in one of the world’s art capitals. Be sure to visit the museum the next time you’re in Berlin and, if you want us to help you do awesome interactive installations using Open Source software, let me know.