The Pop Up Play project explored how immersive digital technology can be used to create learning opportunities for children and young people, in order to enhance their creativity, language and communication skills. The project was funded by the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts andwas a joint project between The Spark Arts for Children,De Montfort University and Dotlib Ltd (Luke Woodbury).
The Pop Up Play system is comprised of three parts - a video system, audio system and a lighting system. Each of these systems have a bank of selectable settings and media that can be linked together to provide one button scene changes. Accessible iPad controls enables the person using the technology to be mobile whilst running the session, and also for the young people themselves to be able to take control.
The visual system makes use of a 3D depth sensor, namely a Kinect camera, which can bring the participants into the screen, whilst cutting out the background. From here elements of the digital and real world can be mixed together and, due to the body tracking capabilities of the Kinect camera, it is also possible to track items onto a user's body or do full body digital puppetry. A further alpha enabled video layer allows environmental/ weather effects to be overlaid on the main visual and a USB camera can be used to bring real world items into the digital environment.
The audio system gives a bank of ambient background sounds and two further banks of sound effects that can be used, as well as microphone input. As with all parts of the system, all that is required to change or add to media is to simply add or remove things from a folder structure. The system will simply pick up new files at the press of a button. For example, users of the system could create their own body parts for a digital puppet and just copy them into a folder.
The lighting system is designed to work with 4x6 channel RGB DMX fittings, though by setting up the DMX devices with the same addresses you could have any number with four individual output colours. The lighting system is very simple to use; using a single finger a user can scroll through all the colours of the rainbow effortlessly.
Go to the Github link for the Max files, or the main website for the Windows exported application, the software is free and licensed under the MPL open source licence, though it does have some third party requirements. The main website also has some additional resources and details of the research that accompanied this project.
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