Swarm Sandbox

December 2013 | By Sam Fox Royston


In this experiment I created an abstracted 'swarm' that can be manipulated to perform a number of functions. This is a showcase of how one might interact with it via webcam. Images and interfaces are commonplace on the web, but when they are constituted by hundreds of organic-looking interactive agents, things are a little more surprising. This is a simplified swarm with no collision detection or boid-like dynamics; instead it is just a gravitational system with randomness, friction and a few other parameters. Things get fun when you start manipulating the insect's centers of gravity via input from the user / webcam. The default interaction is dictated by motion detected in the webcam: shake your right hand and they'll probably move to the right, left hand, left, and so on. To render the 'portraits', I used a thresholded canny edge detector and distributed the swarm evenly amongst the output... they work best if you are in front of a uniform background.

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