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Interactive SXSW Installation Uses Kinect To Beam Users Into CGI Worlds

'StreamMeUp" allowed users to explore alien worlds using some next-gen tech.

The best part about Star Trek, bar Kirk, was imaging what it'd be like to be boldly beamed down into places, "Where no man has gone before." While we're still at least a few decades away from interstellar space travel, one installation at SXSW Interactive allowed lucky users the experience of being teleported into hostile alien territory. It was called StreamMeUp, and, while it only existed temporarily, it was the exactly the type of video game-cum-augmented-reality experience that excites us for the future.

The product of a collaboration between Microsoft Studios, design studio Something Savage, and code artist James George, the immersive 2.5D sci-fi installation was a symbiogenesis of the core technologies behind our contemporary arts tech evolution: four Canon 5D Mark IIIs, one Kinect, one Oculus Rift, and an endless sea of good ol' imagination.  

One lucky participant is beamed into StreamMeUp. Images via

Here's how it worked: paired with the Kinect sensors, the cameras captured six or so seconds of participants standing on the "Transporter Platform." This footage was then streamed into the alien worlds created by animator Patrick Clarke, a meta-experience in which participants got to watch themselves teleported onto new planets. Participants were then invited to explore these worlds by way of the Oculus Rift. Each of the three provided environments offered its own challenges, including custom-made organisms for each of the three optional worlds. Special 2D monitors allowed spectators a peek in on participants' progress, allowing everyone to get in on the fun.

Said James George, the data artist and Microsoft Research's first artist-in-residence, "This type of emerging technology—advanced virtual reality, 3D scanners—are inevitably becoming an everyday part of our experience in the same way that cellphone cameras have become part of our experience. There's a whole dialogue around surveillance and future camera technology that's very dystopian. And I think that's a really important conversation, but the way I like to contribute to that is through making things that are playful and fun and taking the conversation in a different direction."

A side-by-side of the original 3D creature animations, and their interactive 2.5D counterparts. 

StreamMeUp offered users a chance to explore three different worlds pictured above.

The project was on display at SXSW Interactive from March 7-9. According to participants, it was a tremendous success. 

h/t Cool Hunting