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Winscape - creating a room with a view

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April 20, 2010

Winscape - Living under the sea (virtually)

Winscape - Living under the sea (virtually)

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Ever wanted to feel like you live on the moon? Or imagined your house at the bottom of the sea? The Winscape application from Rational Craft will turn two plasma TVs into virtual windows and give you a realistic interactive view of Earth from space, an underwater aquarium, or simply footage of the Golden Gate Bridge as you move around the room.

Winscape is the brainchild of Ryan Hoagland who dreamed of creating virtual windows out of engineering scrap. When the time came to renovate the living room it was time to put the idea into practice. He began, after some basic wall and floor infrastructure, by installing two plasma TVs; fans to extract the warm air generated; and a dry wall facade to house it all whilst still allowing access should the TVs need maintenance.

Next he hacked a Wii Remote to allow tracking of movement of an object or person independent of batteries and using Bluetooth, and re-wrote bits of OS X application that allows data retrieved by the Wii Remote motion sensor to be interpreted by a custom-built IR-emitting board that can be hung from the viewer like a necklace. This causes the view and perspective to change as the necklace-wearer moves around the room. Quicktime and OpenGL contexts are shared to allow HD video to run on two screens in the proper proportions, and the whole thing is fed by an Apple Mac Pro workstation in the next room.

The specs and system requirements for Ryan's virtual window display are shared on the Rationalcraft website and a video showing the "Making Of" will give any enthusiastic computer tech with wood-working skills the full details for a custom install. The Winscape software is available as a free trial download for thirty runs before a license must be purchased, and a freely downloadable Winscape Remote iPhone application allows you to wake and sleep your Winscape, or choose your scene via your wireless network. Additionally Ryan has filmed a number of HD videos, some of which are for purchase on DVD for a small fee, and tips and advice for creating your own are also provided on the site.

Rationalcraft hope to have a Wii remote and slimmer necklace kit available by July 2010 and anyone wishing to know details should email their press address. For those of us who shouldn't be let loose with power tools and electricity however I guess we shall have to be content with our fish bowl desktop screensavers.

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