The second iteration of the Third Room project came about as part of a formal paper submission to the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME) which was held in South Korea in May of 2013. At its core the Third Room is an interactive musical environment that uses a Kinect camera to track multiple users in a physical space and project them into a virtual space that corresponds to it directly. The user can create different objects that have their own unique musical qualities and through their interaction they create a composition that is part generative and part improvised performance. The physical and virtual congruence is increased with the addition of robotic elements that are installed above the user, so as the user reaches into the virtual world, the virtual world then reaches back out into the physical. Also present in the physical room are a pair of interfaces that allow for a multi-modal interactive and immersive experience.
Conceptually, the Third Room is a step toward re-imagining how we approach the creation and performance of digital music. In a virtual environment the same laws that govern the creation of physical musical instruments do not apply. In the Third Room, instruments are created and destroyed; they are manipulatable and autonomous; they are real and they are not real. The Third Room attempts to realize a future space, for performance or composition, that exists both physically and virtually, integrating virtual natural interaction with touch and feel. For more information please read the published paper here.
Taking what I had learned from the first version the entire project was redone from scratch. With a better grasp on C++, Cinder, and interaction design I was able to create a dynamic system which could run for several days without crashing. Interaction was reduced to simpler forms. Instead of finding objects in the room, all users could create their own objects. During testing I found that almost everybody, upon seeing their avatar appear in the virtual space, would wave at themselves. This seemed only natural so I made the wave gesture the basic form of interaction. Waving creates a ball, which can be thrown, which triggers different notes in a harmonic series, creating a soundscape that could be simple tones or dense textures of harmonics.