Contours: Fluid Laser Outlines

Contours begins as  a mysterious black obelisk in the middle of the room. As curious onlookers approach, the wall suddenly comes to life with moving shapes. Contours focuses viewers’ attention back on themselves by tracking their movements and rendering them in brilliant green laser on the wall. Complex human motion is visualized in simple outline form for the crowd to see. Participants can’t help but make shadow puppets and dance for the all-seeing eye as their laser avatar mimics their every motion.

An infrared video camera with custom computer vision software captures users’ outlines and projects the shapes in real-time on the wall using a USB laser. An optional second program maintains a recent history of each user’s contours and projects them on a timeline as animated vignettes. These animations provide an interesting look into how different people interact with the system – some wave their hands right in front of the camera while others stand back and jump around.

All components are housed inside a five-foot tall wood and aluminum obelisk. I built the obelisk to protect the components while also maintaining a sense of mystery that would not be achieved using a regular tripod setup.