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Handpicked agencies @EMERCE eDAY 2018

This year Handpicked agencies sponsored and attended the 11th edition of @EMERCE eDay, in the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam. We found some time to do a DIY project, so we accepted the challenge to design and build a cool interactive stand.

After a brainstorming with our desk neighbors from Boldly XR we arrived at an interactive wall using electric / conductive paint. Boldly XR was hooked into the project, since they could immediately use the acquired knowledge for an other great project .

In this blog we tell you about the concept, the process, learnings and other possibilities.

 
 

Conductive paint, how does it actually work?

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It’s possible to set up a circuit through paint through which current is passed. This circuit can be connected to a Arduino-based, programmable "Bare conductive Touch Board". That means that you can paint your own 'switches'. And this switch can be a logo, doodle, or other artwork.

You can choose to buy this paint ready-made or, like us, chose to make it yourself based on a recipe. Spoiler, it works!

 
 

The concept

Now that we know that the paint works, we have set up the concept. We wanted to have users interact in 3 ways>

  • By touching logos (Handpicked agencies consists of 7 labels) you can play a showreel of the relevant label

  • Voting on a poll with rotating statements

  • Musical elements such as drums and a piano

Other than that it had to stay low-profile and had to run standalone.

We set up the basic artword based on the corporate video style of Handpicked agencies. So we ended up with this.

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We also needed the following

  • Two short throw beamers (Optoma X320USTi)

  • 3 conductive touchboards

  • Long HDMI cables

  • Electric wire

  • Ducttape

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The process

Applying the paint

Our BluebirdDay colleague Dennis helped us with sticker molds that we applied to the wood. We painted over the sticker and removed it once it was dry. We spent an evening applying all the artwork.

Drums &  Piano

To make the drums and piano we put the Bare Conductive Touch Boards in MIDI mode. We did this by putting a little soldering tin on the board, which enabled the Touch Board to produce sounds. The code to make it work is pre-installed on the Touch Board. The piano worked immediately! For the drums we had to make changes to the sound to simulate a real drum set.

Videos & poll

The third Touch Board was used to play the animations, videos and the poll. The Touch Board was put in MIDI USB mode (code supplied by Bare Conductive) so we could use it as a MIDI device with other software.

Through Madmapper we positioned all animations on the board. By linking various actions, such as starting an animation, to a MIDI signal, it was possible to play animations via the Touch Board. These animations were .mp4 files that were played when the paint was touched.


Connecting the dots

At various points where the wall would be touched we put nails through the wood. We then attached copper wire and a flexible core mounted to the nails at the back of the board. This allowed us to easily connect and disconnect the wires and to use all the pins on the Touch Board. We drilled through the wooden panel so that we could run the USB cables through them and hide it at the back of the wall. Finally, we hooked up everything to the laptop behind the wall.

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Learnings

  • The (self made) paint does not conduct well over long distances; For long distance it’s best to use cables.

  • Pay attention to the type of wood. The wood should preferably not have too many grooves. We used Plywood.

  • We used a Touch Board with 12 pins, but Bare Conductive sells boards with more pins.

  • If you make the paint yourself; test it well before using it on the final product. Making your own paint is cheaper, but conducts worse.

  • Make sure that the beamers cover your panels and that they are properly aligned. This saves a lot of headache in MadMapper.

  • Communicating with Madmapper through Processing works differently on Mac than on Windows, choose a system and stick to it.

Want to make your own conductive paint?

Leave your email behind and we will send you our own recipe.
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Are you interested in working with or at Handpicked labs? Feel free to contact us or apply here. We are currently focussing on iOT + Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Conversational systems and XR (AR+VR)