Using the Ultrabook's gyroscope and touchscreen, become part of a flock of colorful gliders.
The Experience Intel project is launching in New York this Friday before it heads off on a six month global tour, bringing with it amazing installations, great talks, and awesome performances. And the best news is that it's completely free, opening daily to the public from 10AM from 17-19 May at Gansevoort Plaza, NYC.
One of the installations that will be there is a brand new piece by Universal Everything called Gliders. Featuring the studio's playful style and abstract aesthetic visitors will be able to create their own glider using a touchscreen. After customizing the colors and shape you then send your creation off to join a flock of others on a giant, mesmerizing video wall.
Once your glider is in flight you follow it around using an Ultrabook, watching it soar through the air majestically for a meditative and soothing flying experience. And a little, digital part of you will live on in the wall as it travels around the globe.
To find out more about the piece we spoke with Universal Everything's Matt Pyke and Mike Tucker.
The Creators Project: Can you tell us a little bit about how you conceived the idea for Gliders? Was the installation inspired by a past experience or project or anything like that?
Matt Pyke: One of the many things we thought about was the actual product itself in terms of the Ultrabook and we wanted it to be something that explored touch interaction. And also how you can use the gyroscope to interact with the glider in a more physical way with tilting the screen. I think one of the key ideas we had was this idea of collective performance in a physical environment, so we really wanted to have this real world physics sensation for the work so the audience can relate to it. Because they understand how things fly, and how they behave/interact with each other, and how you use turbulence, wind, and all these other natural forces, and how you can use these graphics from Intel to visualize that.
Also, you can look at this big screen, you can spot your creation in it and show your friends “look, that’s my creation!”. But it wasn’t just a personal thing, you were creating something that will become a part of a big mass of creations, so you have a real sense that you are part of a much bigger community. People, strangers that created things the day before, or the hour before—it gives you a sense it was a crowd-sourced creation.
It's almost a very childlike experience. Was that idea tied to anything that happened when you guys were developing?
Yeah, I think so. We really wanted to get this idea of simplicity and elegance across, something where it was more joyful and uplifting. This sort of fantasy where you're able to design your own glider and decorate it how you want—and make it quite a personal expression and then see it released into the wild, come to life. It’s kind of a key thing for us. It goes from this inactive graphic thing on the screen and you bring it to life on the big video wall in the space—we wanted it to be something that took on a life of its own.
Why was it important that you incorporated that element of "everlasting-ness". The fact it lives on from city to city?
We’re actually documenting each creation that’s being made, and that can be made, into an online gallery. You can see all of the different pieces being created in New York, Chicago, or Tokyo and I think that will be an interesting portrait of the taste of each community. A New York style, a Chicago style, a Tokyo style kind of thing. Just seeing that unfold over time I think will be really interesting for everybody.
Can you talk a little bit about how you went about highlighting gesture in this project?
One way is the act of creation on the screen using a touchscreen to draw these forms and decorate it—gestural based input. The other thing that is really nice is when you do launch your glider onto the screen, you can actually follow it on the Ultrabook. You’re like a camera man following your creation around the space. And you see people wiggling, writhing, and spinning in space trying to keep up with their glider.
What kind of emotions are you hoping to evoke in people? How do you see people reacting?
I think one thing is this sense of community between people, so that you’re standing next to a random stranger and you start interacting with them and you end up kind of seeing what they’re creating and copying them. So there might be some real face-to-face conversation going on and kind of a mini-competition and dialogue. Another is a sense that you’re contributing to a big collective piece so it's not just an isolated thing, it’s got a social aspect to it in that way.
And I think on top of that the pure joy and elation of seeing some really brightly colored decorative things flying through the space in a very aerobatic way. You mentioned a child-like thing earlier and that’s something we try to keep in our work. Kind of a child inside all of us, that simplicity to things. You don’t have to make it all grown up and super sophisticated. It’s more to do with the movement, the color, and the form. The very primitive kind of things, but the things that excite us still.
Below Mike Tucker talks us through some of the technical aspects of the piece.
The Creators Project: How does the installation work technically and how's it being powered?
Mike Tucker: When the visitor first comes into the space the first thing they see is a large screen on the wall with a lot of these creations sort of flocking together. The larger screen is being run on servers. We have a giant Intel desktop that’s driving the larger screen, and that’s connected to a big wi-fi router and when the visitors come in they’re handed one of the Intel Ultrabooks and all of the PCs are connected on the same wi-fi network with the server screen.
So, on the laptop you startup this creation tool and the first thing you do is build the shape of the glider, and once you’re happy with that you move onto painting it with a variety of palettes that we picked out. And after you’ve painted it you see how it looks as a 3D model, so you can spin it around a bit and part of that is launching it into the public launch screen. Once you hit the launch button it shows up on the big screen and the glider takes center stage and then if you look back at your laptop you are now in control of the camera on board that glider.
Your glider will be flocking around on the big screen, while on the laptop you can tilt the Ultrabook in different directions and that’s almost like a window into the larger screen space. It’s almost like you’re sitting in the cockpit on one of these gliders. And that’s using the gyroscope sensor inside the laptops—it knows the angle at which you’re holding it and the direction, so it gives you freedom in terms of movement.
When you’re finished with the glider and you send it off to the screen, how does it get recognised and picked up on the big screen?
During the creation process you’re essentially creating a 3D model and it’s basically a series of lines and points. When you get to the second step and you’re painting it, you’re painting in these triangles and we just keep track of all these triangles, all the lines and all the points.
We’re using Unity 3D on this installation, which is actually designed as a game engine. There’s a lot of games that you play on your iPad or on your computer that use Unity and we used it for this project because it's a great tool for creating effects for what we’re trying to do—which is to have these generated 3D models moving around in a 3D space and being able to control the camera and a variety of particle systems and movement behaviors. All of that ties in very well with Unity 3D as a tool. And another good aspect of that tool is that it can be deployed on a variety of systems.
So we have all these different Ultrabooks and each one is a little bit different. There’s a variety of screen sizes, shapes, and resolutions and then we have the larger server so we could go into the technical limitation to each device. The server has a lot more detail in terms of what it's rendering on screen. There’s this nebula in the lower half of the larger screen and that’s going through post processing to give a nice 3D look to it. And then on the laptops we have a slightly more simplified version of that so it can perform well on both of these devices and look as good as it does.
Studio - Universal Everything
Artistic Director - Matt Pyke
Developed by Mike Tucker, Andreas Müller, and Tim Gfrerer
Sound - Simon Pyke
3d - Chris Perry
Producer - Keri Elmsly