Invisible Threads is an ongoing project of mine. I am deeply interested in the performing arts and to that end I recently completed a professional dancer’s training program wherein, I created my own choreography. That is where I saw an opportunity to explore the use of wireless sensors & ad-hoc networks to enhance the choreography and thus Invisible Threads was born. The basic idea is that if one can track the position of a dancer while s/he is performing, one can use that data to create graphics related to the theme of the dance and use it as a stage backdrop.
There are several ways to track the position of a moving object. I chose a 6 Degrees of Freedom, accelerometer + gyroscope based Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) IC, called MPU6050 by Invensense. It sends the raw data via I2C bus to a Wifi module IC called ESP8266. The wifi module creates its own wifi network & transmits the raw data sent by the IMU over it. The IMU, the wifi module and a small power supply to power the two ICs can be integrated on a small wearable device which the dancers can wear on their person. The movement data sent by the wearable device is received and processed on a computer. I wrote a code in Processing for this. In the code, a kinematic model of the dancer’s person is used to generate thematic graphics; for example, if the performance has more of an aggressive component in it, a fire based graphic with explosions to depict abrupt movements.
Obviously, the idea has much more potential than the way I am using it. I eventually want to extend the current depiction from a simple 2D projection to a more complex 3D object on the stage with the dancer, which responds to the dancers’ movement, making the application truly interactive. I also want to attach multiple sensors to different parts of the dancers’ body and use the data from the sensors to generate feedback which can be used in training programs.