Capturing an Audience with Laser and Snake

Robert Stephenson, Collaboration Architect,

Track: Python
Date: Thursday, July 27
Time: 4:30pm - 5:15pm
Location: D136

Edward Tufte has compared PowerPoint presentations to a school play: "very loud, very slow, and very simple." This session offers a more interactive alternative: controlling a large-screen presentation or demo by laser pointer. Requirements: computer, Webcam, inexpensive laser pointer(s), Python, and imagination.

The Webcam tracks the position of the laser dot relative to the projection screen coordinates. A flexible software module allows more-or-less straightforward laser manipulation of the WIMP interface from anywhere in the room. It also opens up a host of less conventional but more interesting modes of control: free-form drawing, gestures, games, scrolling, and special effects. Equipping the audience with lasers transforms passive listeners into participants. Imagine instant polls, classroom response systems, multiperson games.

This session will cover how the laser interface is implemented, as well as explore the user interface possibilities that it opens up. It will appeal to anyone who must give presentations or demos to an audience and desires to transcend the limitations of mouse control. Pythonic topics addressed include user interface issues, system access, and image analysis.