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Gigapixel Hack Makes Photos More Interactive

A postgraduate looks into ways of exploring photography even more with a hacked Kinect and Arduino board.

Have you ever looked at a particulalry stunning photograph and wished you could really immerse yourself in it? A recent project attempts to do just that, with the help of a good camera, a hacked Kinect, and an Arduino board.

Samuel Cox, a university collegue of mine, recently held an exhibition for his postgraduate project, based on interactive photography. Sam invited the public to really explore the UK city of Lincoln and surrounding areas on a gigapixel picture (that's 1,000 megapixels), and see if he could immerse more of people's senses when looking at photographs. I went to check it out.

The project, called GigaLinc, encourages people to step in front of a Kinect and a large screen, and get immersed in massive photos of the city of Lincoln, UK. Users have three photo options to chose from, and after standing on a footpad to choose the image, the person would then make certain arm movements in order to move around and zoom in and out of the photo. As you view a particular photo, audio clips recorded from that location will play as well. If a person finds a certain part of the image, interesting they can take a screenshot.

GigaLinc works by connecting a computer to a projector, printer, Kinect and Arduino board. The projector, well, projects the images onto the screen, and the Arduino is programmed to allow people to choose which image they would like to look at. The hacked Kinect picks up the movements of the person stood infront of it, allowing for the exploration of the image.

"I used Arduino because it's ideal for interactivity and very flexible," Sam explains. "I used a Kinect for the depth tracking. No other webcam device really offers that technical ability."

This a great way to emotionally connect with scenes--it lets you get a deeper sense of what a particular location is like, without having to actually visit it (in this case, most of those who took part in GigaLinc were Lincoln residents). It's certainly one of the most interesting uses for a hacked Kinect that we've seen!

Check out the video below from the exhibition to see the set up in action, or explore the giant photos he used for yourself.

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