The entertainment industry is ever changing and evolving. It is perhaps one of the fastest changing industries out there. Just think about it for a moment. The industry is constantly searching for the next big thing. For a new way to “wow” their audience and be the talk of the day. So, what would happen if you combine the ever-changing entertainment industry with technology? You get something new. Look at ultra-wide band (UWB) indoor positioning for example, changing the industry with new artistic experiences.
What is ultra-wideband positioning?
Ultra-wideband positioning is still rather new on the market, but already offers a great deal of opportunities. Look at Pozyx for instance, an ultra-wideband (UWB) based positioning system. This system allows you to position pretty much anything with an accuracy of up to 10 cm. All you need Is 4 static anchors and one tag on the item you wish to position in space. UWB is a far more accurate solution than Bluetooth / beacon based technologies and far easier and cost-efficient to implement than optical and camera based solutions. So, how can this be used for new artistic experiences?
The COSMOS performance, directed by Chris Ziegler, is a great example of an interactive performance that uses indoor positioning. The performance goes well beyond words and music alone, and focuses heavily on the movements of the performer. By using indoor positioning, they directly interact with their props and create an immersive and mesmerizing performance.
For this case they used the Pozyx system and tags, equipped with both a Decawave chip and an IMU. The IMU is what allows the tracking of the pitch, yaw and roll (the head movements of the wearer) of the tag. Thanks to an update rate of 100 hertz over UWB, both IMU and position data are constantly being updated. Another great advantage for stage performances is that UWB doesn’t suffer from interferences from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other commercially used radio technologies.
Dancing has had many transformations over the years. Not just in styles that are continuously changing, but also in terms of performance. Everything is becoming bigger and more spectacular. With indoor positioning there are several options to make a performance more unique and striking. The performance showcased in the video uses UWB to track the position of the dancers and create stunning visuals.
While it used a 30 Hz update rate then, it has since been improved to 140 Hz per second. This allows for a much smoother performance. Companies like Pozyx now even have industrial solutions that use the TDAO (Time difference of arrival) protocol. This solution enables for update rates up to 1000 hertz. Whilst this is commonly used for tracking 1000’s of animals or pallets, we now see a large interest from the entertainment sector too.
Immersive virtual reality
While most theme and water parks try to impress people with having the fastest or longest roller coaster or water slide, some take a different approach. As the video illustrates, UWB positioning hardware can be used to provide an immersive virtual reality.
Ultra-wideband does positioning by calculating the time of flight “how long did a signal travel from point A to point B”, between two devices. When you have four of these you can triangulate a position, commonly referred to as “UWB positioning”. The clever people of Polymorph, however, just placed a single anchor at every 20 m interval on the bottom of the slide. On the headset they attached a Pozyx tag.
By simply ranging with the anchors one by one, as the tag moves through the slide, a 1D (distance from tag to nearest anchor) position is calculated. This is enough to pinpoint with 10 cm accuracy where someone is in the slide. The great advantage of this trick is that the entire slide is done with just 8 anchors. This allows for a very inexpensive solution for a problem “how far in the slide are you?”, that would otherwise have been highly complex to solve.
Light and audio shows
Light and audio shows are gaining more and more popularity and are a great way to attract attention. With UWB-based positioning software, these shows can be made even more special and interactive.
SoundSculpture, directed by Ryan Edwards, is an immersive and interactive installation of several cubes. Participants create not only physical structures with the cubes, but also musical compositions created by the positions of the cubes. The color-changing illuminated cubes are all equipped with Pozyx, and are position-aware. This allows for the cube to register its location in software, creating a public-controlled music sequencer.
These are just a few examples of how indoor positioning can be used to create new artistic experiences. The possibilities for the entertainment industry are near endless.