Tiago Martins and Penousal Machado

M.Sc. Student / Assistant Professor
CISUC, Department of Informatics Engineering, University of Coimbra
Coimbra, Portugal
The garden of virtual delights, is a project developed for the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra. It is an interactive installation that aims to promote this garden and attract visitors. The installation simulates an artificial ecosystem in which visitors are an integral part, interacting naturally with artificial organisms that surround them.

The ecosystem is composed of several species, organized in a food chain. The artificial organisms are influenced by the presence and movement of other artificial agents as well as by visitors, who integrate the ecosystem and occupy the top of the food chain. The ecosystem is implemented using a particle system wherein each particle represents an organism. The particles are organized into several interacting swarms, each one representing a different species.


Prototype of the installation
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Computer, Projector and Microsoft Kinect
2013
Working prototype of the installation. The detection of people is performed in real time using Microsoft Kinect, employing a tracking mechanism that allows the analysis of the movement of each volume individually. Speed determines the area of repulsion of each volume. As such, sudden movements are perceived as threats, making the organisms flee away. Gentle and subtle movements promote trust and curiosity, triggering the interest of the organisms by such visitors, and making them steer towards them. This encourages a contemplative attitude that fits the nature of the space.
Swarming Bheavior
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Computer, Projector and Microsoft Kinect
2013
The image depicts the swarming behavior of the artificial agents that populate the ecosystem. The ecosystem is implemented using a particle system wherein each particle represents an organism. The particles are organized into several swarms which represent the different species. Each organism is autonomous as its behaviour is determined by the individual perceptions of its surroundings. Similarly to the work of Craig Reynolds the behaviour between organisms is dictated by the rules of: repulsion, alignment and attraction. The interaction among different species can be portrayed by applying a variation of weights to the rules mentioned above. This variation of weights and neighbouring radius for each individual makes it possible to achieve a convincing simulation of predator-prey behaviour.
Snapshot of the Application
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Computer, Projector and Microsoft Kinect
2013
Snapshot of the application that controls the installation. Two circles are drawn for each detected volume. The inner circle represents the area of the volume, the outer circle represents the repulsion area. The dimension of the repulsion area is proportional to the amount of movement.

Acknowledgments: This research is partially funded by FEDER through POFC – COMPETE, project VisualyzARt with reference QREN 23201 and iCIS project (CENTRO-07-ST24-FEDER-002003), which is co-financed by QREN, in the scope of the Mais Centro Program and European Union's FEDER.