Remote Emote Project

Posted on Tuesday 19 September 2006

The inspiration for this project is my desire to add another aspect to remote interaction that goes beyond the telephone, fax, video conferencing or any previous 2 dimensional communication. Remote Emote is a 3-dimensional relief that transmits shape and motion over distance and space. My ultimate fantacy is not going to happen during this semester but is will always be in the future.

For the scope of the Project development studio I hope to create a 12″ square imput(or transmit) field and a corresponding 12″ output (or display) square. The two objects would be networked over the internet allowing for the possibility of transmissions over long distances.

Over the next 12 weeks(out of the 14 for this course) I hope to accomplish this task in the following steps:

week 3/ Sept.20: Presentation of concept and feedback from peers.

week 4/ Sept. 27: Test Materials/Parts show and tell

week 5/Oct. 4: Experiments presentation

week 6/Oct. 11: Prototype of one unit of resolution of the push/transmit – emerge/recieve action Local

week 7/Oct. 18: Discussion of Scaling and budgeting for final piece.

week 8/Oct 25: Final design sketches.

week 9/Nov. 1:CAD deadline/ Laser etching deadline

week 10/Nov. 8: 25% resolution mockup rough.

week 11/Nov.15: Final physical build

week 12/Nov.29: Final programming

week 13/Dec.6: Trouble shooting

week 14/Dec 13: Final working prototype.

Challenges: Creating a transmitter with some degree of resolution that senses a relief input on one side and a receiver that can transmit that relief through the use of a multi-dimensional motor array. The physical build will have to deal with the cost effectiveness of many motors, many “depth sensors”, the coding will have to take into account a way to track the position of the output motors based on the input sensors.

Inspirations: I had many visual inspirations for this idea, the one overiding emotional catalyst is the connection that I feel to my kids and family and the desire to create other forms of communication and expression that bridge the space/distance gap when I am not physically with them. A book on Tom Igoe’s reading list for networked objects is also a source of encouragement as well, “The Victorian Internet” is worth the read for the story it tells of the invention and development of the telegraph in the late 1800′s.

Visual Inspirations

This toy, sitting by the ER usually got me thinking about this concept last semester… what could be added, how could this be achieved.


Who can forget the plea, help me OB1 your my last and only hope…


The field of study that seems closest to what I am attempting seems to be telepresence.

I did find an intriguing article concerning “programmable fibers” that could take the shape of anything one programmed, this would be the height of achievement for a project like mine. here’s the link at MIT:

ITP based inspiration:

Rob Faludi’s toy “Sketch & Share”:


Rob’s interaction with this toy was interesting to what and a nice technological project. One of the most interesting by products of the grid/game play was a race between players to make all of the matrix one color(their own).
This is a kind of push pull across the internet that was quite nice. I am hoping to use Rob as a technical consultant and sounding board to my development of Remote Emote.

Daniel Hirschmann’s Glow Bits:


The interface to this object has some elements of part of what I am working at, users push (and pull) at the color balls to affect color, in some ways color can address a nearness or distance in traditional art. The glow bits do play at a dimension, but not yet to the degree that I am hoping to achieve.

James Clar’s 3-D cube:

see the research area of his site, he is now into production for home and display products in this same area of a 3-D array of LED’s that represent 3-Dimensional subjects.

AIST has done some really incredible work with a kind of plasma display suspended in thin air:
Link here

Possible Building Strategies and Materials

Input side: So I need to create field or matrix of sensors that gauge distance and can send that make that data available to the microcontroller and the output side.

Hamamatsu Photo Reflector
I looked at this sensor briefly in Tom’s Sensor Workshop class, the price is pretty good at about 2.25 each, their are used by robot builders to implement in the locomotion of the robots wheels as a rotary encoder. I would have to see if their could track a linear object.

Linear Pots might hold some promise, but this one only extends out to about 10 or 12 milimeters.
etisystems The nice feature about this line is that it comes with an option for an internal spring return.

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