Digital Cameras

Touchy wearer walks around in darkness until touched by a human hand

Touchy wearer walks around in ...
Closed shutters keep Touchy's wearer in darkness until touched by human hand, at which point the shutter opens
Closed shutters keep Touchy's wearer in darkness until touched by human hand, at which point the shutter opens
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Closed shutters keep Touchy's wearer in darkness until touched by human hand, at which point the shutter opens
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Closed shutters keep Touchy's wearer in darkness until touched by human hand, at which point the shutter opens
The shutters in front of the wearer's eyes are closed until human contact is made with the skin
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The shutters in front of the wearer's eyes are closed until human contact is made with the skin
The shutters in front of the wearer's eyes are controlled by an Arduino board and opened and closed using a pair of step motors
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The shutters in front of the wearer's eyes are controlled by an Arduino board and opened and closed using a pair of step motors
Eating out could be a problem for the wearer of the Touchy helmet-cam
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Eating out could be a problem for the wearer of the Touchy helmet-cam
Using Touchy as a human camera
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Using Touchy as a human camera
Very much alone, shutters in front of the wearer's eyes cut him off from the world around him
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Very much alone, shutters in front of the wearer's eyes cut him off from the world around him
The Touchy helmet-cam
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The Touchy helmet-cam
The Touchy helmet-cam is described as a social interaction experiment
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The Touchy helmet-cam is described as a social interaction experiment
Blind to the world around, the wearer remains in isolation until physical human contact is made
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Blind to the world around, the wearer remains in isolation until physical human contact is made
The wearer of the head-mounted camera is effectively in darkness until someone touches him, at which point the automated shutters blinding the wearer open briefly
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The wearer of the head-mounted camera is effectively in darkness until someone touches him, at which point the automated shutters blinding the wearer open briefly
The Touchy helmet-cam
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The Touchy helmet-cam
I can hear you but I can't see you - the Touchy helmet-cam
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I can hear you but I can't see you - the Touchy helmet-cam
The shutter closed and the world blocked out
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The shutter closed and the world blocked out
When the wearer is touched, the shutter open
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When the wearer is touched, the shutter open
Touchy's 2-megapixel CMOS sensor produces stills at either 640 x 480 or 1600 x 1200 pixels in JPG format
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Touchy's 2-megapixel CMOS sensor produces stills at either 640 x 480 or 1600 x 1200 pixels in JPG format
An early sketch of Touchy
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An early sketch of Touchy
The final design on paper, in readiness for the building of the prototype
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The final design on paper, in readiness for the building of the prototype
A Touchy prototype mockup - no electronics, just checking out the shape and fit
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A Touchy prototype mockup - no electronics, just checking out the shape and fit
Eric Siu with an early non-functioning prototype, showing where the helmet's camera would be positioned
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Eric Siu with an early non-functioning prototype, showing where the helmet's camera would be positioned
Eric Siu with an early non-functioning prototype, showing where the touchscreen would later be placed
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Eric Siu with an early non-functioning prototype, showing where the touchscreen would later be placed

If you see what appears at first glance to be a short version of Robocop stumbling through the streets of Tokyo, worry not folks it will likely be Eric Siu or one of his friends using Touchy. The wearer of the head-mounted camera is effectively in darkness until someone touches him, at which point the automated shutters blinding the wearer open briefly and he can once again view the world around him. If the person maintains touch for ten seconds or more, the built-in camera snaps an image and then displays it on a small screen to the rear of the helmet.

Touchy is described by Hong Kong new media artist Siu as being a social interaction experiment aimed at criticizing the Hikikomori and Otaku social isolation cultures in Japan. It has been in development for about two years in collaboration with Tomohiko Hayakawa and Carson Reynolds at the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory of the University of Tokyo, and is still a work in progress.

Using Touchy as a human camera
Using Touchy as a human camera

"The project adopted the culture of still photo taking, not video recording," said Siu when Gizmag asked why the camera took stills only. "I see the camera as a social device, and the project turns a human into a camera as a suggestion for social healing. To me, a camera has better social capability than a camcorder, since a camera records a particular memorable moment instead of a flow of time. In a group photo, we stand still to wait for the moment to appear, a moment that we are connected in the photograph."

Siu told us that the helmet has a hacked webcam to the front that feeds a 2-megapixel CMOS sensor, producing stills at either 640 x 480 or 1600 x 1200 pixels in JPG format. The storage of snapped images and subsequent display on Touchy's 3.5-inch, 320×240 pixel LCD touchscreen display – on the back of the 6.4 x 8.1 x 9.4-inch (163 x 208 x 239 mm), 2.5-pound (1.17-kg) helmet – are processed using Gumstix hardware.

I can hear you but I can't see you - the Touchy helmet-cam
I can hear you but I can't see you - the Touchy helmet-cam

Details of exactly how the touch sensor actually works are being held back until perfected, but Reynolds told us that the custom-created TouchSwitch "takes advantage of bioelectric phenomena that is observable when two people touch."

"The underlying principle is to treat the skin like an antenna which detects the contact made by the encounter of other humans," he explained. "When Touchy is worn on the head, a portable device built into the helmet constantly observes the skin for signs of human touch. Contact of any variety works: hand shakes, hugs, punches, accidental collisions, high-fives, caresses, nudges, hand-holding, and so forth. TouchSwitch uses an electrical model that does not require a ground reference voltage, and this differentiates it from off-the-shelf touch sensors."

The wearer is not able to activate the shutters by his own touch. The shutters in front of the wearer's eyes are controlled by an Arduino board and opened and closed using a pair of step motors. The onboard battery will power Touchy for around two hours.

Touchy, a Human Camera

Source: Eric Siu

If you see what appears at first glance to be a short version of Robocop stumbling through the streets of Tokyo, worry not folks it will likely be Eric Siu or one of his friends using Touchy. The wearer of the head-mounted camera is effectively in darkness until someone touches him, at which point the automated shutters blinding the wearer open briefly and he can once again view the world around him. If the person maintains touch for ten seconds or more, the built-in camera snaps an image and then displays it on a small screen to the rear of the helmet.

Touchy is described by Hong Kong new media artist Siu as being a social interaction experiment aimed at criticizing the Hikikomori and Otaku social isolation cultures in Japan. It has been in development for about two years in collaboration with Tomohiko Hayakawa and Carson Reynolds at the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory of the University of Tokyo, and is still a work in progress.

Using Touchy as a human camera
Using Touchy as a human camera

"The project adopted the culture of still photo taking, not video recording," said Siu when Gizmag asked why the camera took stills only. "I see the camera as a social device, and the project turns a human into a camera as a suggestion for social healing. To me, a camera has better social capability than a camcorder, since a camera records a particular memorable moment instead of a flow of time. In a group photo, we stand still to wait for the moment to appear, a moment that we are connected in the photograph."

Siu told us that the helmet has a hacked webcam to the front that feeds a 2-megapixel CMOS sensor, producing stills at either 640 x 480 or 1600 x 1200 pixels in JPG format. The storage of snapped images and subsequent display on Touchy's 3.5-inch, 320×240 pixel LCD touchscreen display – on the back of the 6.4 x 8.1 x 9.4-inch (163 x 208 x 239 mm), 2.5-pound (1.17-kg) helmet – are processed using Gumstix hardware.

I can hear you but I can't see you - the Touchy helmet-cam
I can hear you but I can't see you - the Touchy helmet-cam

Details of exactly how the touch sensor actually works are being held back until perfected, but Reynolds told us that the custom-created TouchSwitch "takes advantage of bioelectric phenomena that is observable when two people touch."

"The underlying principle is to treat the skin like an antenna which detects the contact made by the encounter of other humans," he explained. "When Touchy is worn on the head, a portable device built into the helmet constantly observes the skin for signs of human touch. Contact of any variety works: hand shakes, hugs, punches, accidental collisions, high-fives, caresses, nudges, hand-holding, and so forth. TouchSwitch uses an electrical model that does not require a ground reference voltage, and this differentiates it from off-the-shelf touch sensors."

The wearer is not able to activate the shutters by his own touch. The shutters in front of the wearer's eyes are controlled by an Arduino board and opened and closed using a pair of step motors. The onboard battery will power Touchy for around two hours.

Touchy, a Human Camera

Source: Eric Siu

3 comments
Hmmm...
I wonder if it will snap a picture of the car that runs him over while he's blindly walking in the street.
Ed
um...yeah...no thanks...some people are really weird! Wasn't it in Asia where Bird Flu made everybody super sensitive about touching or even breathing? And this was just a few short years ago!
kellory
Sounds like a great way to get mugged, run over, fall off a bridge or down stairs, get completely lost, electrocuted, or dead. Thanks, but I think I'll pass.