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dividing space

hands-on geometry exploration
exhibit designer/developer – jun 2010
Understanding geometry doesn't require pen, paper, and textbooks. Another way to learn geometry is to experience it and experiment with it. This is the philosophy behind the Exploratorium's "Geometry Playground" exhibition.

Dividing Space presents an interactive Voronoi diagram – visitors can manipulate the diagram by configuring a field of red pegs and sending a blue puck through them. Custom software ties into a computer vision system to enable this realtime, playful interaction with otherwise complex geometry.

Dividing Space uses Processing, ReacTIVision and Mesh.

  • Dividing space allows visitors to explore Voronoi diagrams by manipulating eight moveable pegs and two rolling pucks.
    The red pegs provide an opportunity to set up and observe many different Voronoi diagrams, and the blue pucks allow playful experimentation with Voronoi diagrams in motion.

  • Voronoi diagram around red pegs and blue pucks

    The pegs and pucks on the table are tracked by a camera above, and their locations are sent to custom software that calculates and projects a Voronoi diagram onto the table below.

  • Social interaction around the exhibit

    The table is large enough to accommodate multiple visitors at once, and the presence of two rolling pucks and multiple pegs encourages interaction between visitors.

  • Active play and contemplative exploration

    Dividing space encourages both active play and contemplative exploration.

  • Visitors experiment with the geometry

    Dividing Space was originally conceived as a counterpart to Scott Snibbe's Boundary Functions, as the non-immersive half of a research pairing designed to investigate the effects of immersivity on visitor experience.

  • The first prototype, open at both ends

    The first prototype came fairly close to the desired interaction and content delivery. The most effective change was to add a label at one end of the table, to make it more visible than the bin-mounted labels, and to discourage air hockey-like behavior.