MEDIA LAB [Digital Media PhD] | Professor Teresa Romão

Project Proposal
2010/04/20 | Sketch 2010/05/11 | Prototype | Documentation | Presentation 2010/06/08


B-wind: a RTiVISS experience

What is the feeling of becoming the wind, an invisible power with a visible physical effect on trees? Will you cherish the leafs, or will you trigger a hurricane? B-wind !

In B-wind, users have the opportunity to play an invisible character, the wind, with the impressive visible consequences. The performative potential and the human scale motivate a choreographic approach that raises awareness on space and on the poetry of movement, whereas simultaneously empowering the users by demonstrating a real immediate interaction effect. Users are invisible, the physical presence being subtracted from the visual interface, and the result of their actions is presented in the real-time video through emphasized visual effects. Drawing storyboards for movement indexing and mapping is part of the method.

B-wind works with particle systems for responsive expressive wind effects, as if translating motion into abstract poetry. This proposal is connected to the motto of the “butterfly effect”, for the wind waves provoked by the subtle flickering have the “hurricane effect” in a remote place.
A prototyped component includes the power to apply the wind effect to the forest itself – the motion tracking in the installation having a real amplified effect on the real trees and in real-time, using a microcontroller controlling a fan that produces the wind, which is visible in the framework in the video. Confronted with such possibilities, multiple questions arose during the user experience: is this pleasant, is it strange? Will the participants “spread the wings” and feel the freedom to cherish the trees? Will they explore the superpower of generating wind, somehow “competing against the machine”? Or, as children, exploding in energy, will they join the celebration of nature without processing causes or consequences – just being?... the wind!

Technically, B-wind is realized as two interconnected installation spaces. The first one presents the user with a projection of a live video stream of a remote forest space. A camera records the user's body motion in real-time and a custom video processing software written in openFrameworks and openCV analyses this motion data and uses it to graphically render particle effects showing the user's influence over the live video stream.
Simultaneously, it sends control signals to wind generators in the remote forest location. At the remote location, custom software also written in openFrameworks receives the network control signals and forwards them to an Arduino-based electronic control circuit that controls the power and motions of an array of fans. A video stream is captured at the remote location and is streamed in real-time to the installation space using Darwin Streaming Server and decoded on site using a custom GStreamer pipeline.

B-wind was born in the context of a RTiVISS research project exploring networking practices and actions that contribute to change the current behavior regarding environmental protection, promoting new activities to move society towards more inclusive modes of production and sharing knowledge for the design of a better world.


B-WIND! Interactive installation
at AZ Labs @ O Espaço do Tempo

LIVE STREAM from the exhibition »


AMARAL, Bruno, FIGUEIREDO, RIta [2007], Blow me, installation, Prémio Mapa, Universidade Católica

GONÇALVES, André [2007], I Thought Some Daisies Might Cheer You Up, installation, Interactivos?, Media Lab Madrid

MADEIRA, Rui [2009], Parque, interactive installation, Parque da Paz – Almada, Portugal

SOMMERER, Christa, MIGNONNEAU, Laurent, [1993], "Interactive Plant Growing", ZKM – Center for Art and Media

WATSON, Theodore, GOBEILLE, Emily, [2009], Funky Forest - Interactive Ecosystem

WOOLFORD, Kirk, [from 2008], Shooting the Wind

WOOLFORD, Kirk, [2007], Will.0.W1sp – Installation Overview, ACM, Proceedings of the 15th international conference on Multimedia, Augsburg, Germany, pp. 379-380

WOOLFORD, Kirk[2008], Bhaptic

O'SHEA, Chris [2009] Hand from Above, written using openFrameworks and openCV

Robô de Detecção de Incêndios Florestais
Ano Europeu da Criatividade e Inovação



I. Theme proposed 2010/04/20: "B-wind! A RTiVISS experience"

IV. B-wind! sketches

III. System Architecture

Click on the images for full size

B-wind! [v2.0] interactive installation generic version


B-wind! [v1.0] version presented at "AZ labs @ O Espaço do Tempo" exhibition

The system developed involves three main components:
1. a working prototype of the fan turning on and rotating according to the X axis mouse movements, upgraded into a version with the video tracking of the user captured by the webcam at the installation;
2. the real-time video being captured, and the code for the streamed video processed in openFrameworks;
3. particle fields effects to be generated from the user's performance at the local installation, captured by the same tracking webcam, and embeded in the streamed video of the remote location.

IV. B-wind! Physical computing

First prototype and tests at AZ residency – part I:
B-wind fan control first prototype and circuit

Working fan prototype and motion tracking:

Blog posts on the developments during AZ residency parts I and II and further developments on optimization and media related to the complete prototype presented at the AZ Labs @ O Espaço do Tempo exhibition at B-wind category of the RTiVISS project blog »

V. Present(ation) » Future developments
The most recent iterations are currently taking place at the AZ Labs @ O Espaço do Tempo exhibition.
The B-wind! project is being constantly updated HERE »

LIVE STREAM from the exhibition