OpenPool Lets Fish and Lights Dance and Play with Moving Objects

AUSTIN ( — Your local restaurant or billiard hall could be getting a high-tech upgrade thanks to OpenPool, an open source project on display at the Gaming Expo during the South by Southwest Interactive conference. A group of open source developers showed off this new interactive motion technology by projecting lights and schools of fish onto a pool table and letting conference attendees interact with the images.

The setup utilized two Microsoft Kinect motion sensors as well as a projector set up above the pool table. In this particular demo, spotlights danced and pools of fish swam around the table, but an aquarium theme isn't the only visual design the OpenPool project can enable. The group had a video showing several different environments. OpenPool is simply the technology; the only design limits are with the developers who build on the project.

In terms of commercial applications, the creators expect to see OpenPool's technology incorporated into bars, restaurants or any social spot where atmosphere is a key factor. Schools of fish could be swimming around your favorite dish at your local diner, rushing away as you pass the salt. However, since the technology is free, anyone can build their own OpenPool table, entertaining friends and family or creating a cool interactive surface for themselves.

There were a few stutters in the projections during our time rolling around billiard balls, and some lag from time to time, but the technology was responsive the majority of the time. Since this is an open-source project, inspired developers will be able to dive into the code themselves, improving certain aspects and making the overall project better.

The code isn't yet available, but the developers at OpenPool should be posting it to Github, a social coding website ideal for open-source projects, at some point before the end of SXSW Interactive. Once live, anyone will be able to copy the code to their own computers and add their own features with the Java programming language. 

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