As you can probably glean from the animated images above, the floor is a kind of skin for Ada -- a tactile and luminous surface. Poeople walk on it and Ada can feel where they are and communicate
with them. This was a big job...
To get an idea of what this floor does, have a look at a short video (Windows Media Format 11MB) that shows Ada waking up as people enter the exhibit and then follows a girl as she is tracked and then actively probed, using cues shown on the floor, for her willingness to interact. A longer video about Ada is linked below. Or play the Flash video below
Anyhow, to make a long story very short, Ada was built and ran successfully for a period of 5 months during the summer of 2002 with >500k visitors.
We wrote a very short paper describing the floor and its use in Ada from a technical point of view. Despite the fact that Ada interacted autonomously with over 1/2 million people during Ada's Expo.02 existence, this paper was rejected from the Interact03 conference on human-computer interaction. Probably partly because of the paper title. So here it is for your pleasure.
We also tried to get this work into ICRA2005 (International Conference on Robotics and Automation) with a new and improved draft of the paper. This was also rejected, albeit marginally, and only the grounds of relevance. I suppose roboticists just don't have HAL or 2001 in mind enough to think that autonomous robotic spaces are also interesting. Here is that paper about technical aspects of the floor:
Next Kynan Eng, Paul Verschure and I put together a video paper for this same Interact2003 meeting that gives a short overview of Ada:
T. Delbrück, K. Eng, A. Bäbler, U. Bernardet, M. Blanchard, A. Briska, M. Costa, R. Douglas, K. Hepp, D. Klein, J. Manzolli, M. Mintz, F. Roth, U. Rutishauser, K. Wassermann, A. Wittmann, A.M. Whatley, R. Wyss and P.F.M.J. Verschure (2003) Ada: a playful interactive space, Interact 2003, Ninth IFIP TC13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction INTERACT'03, Sept 1-5, Zurich, Switzerland. pp 989-992.
Video ( Windows Media Format) movie (25MB) that goes with this paper. It shows Ada's floor in many of its aspects, as well as an overview of the setting at the Swiss Expo 2002 and a few glimpses of other aspects of the exhibit
Finally, we published a full paper about the floor in 2007
To summarize the requirements for a standalone floor exhibition: The standalone floor now runs a self-running demo from a single Linux machine (a mini PC with PCI slot). You can make a very low-maintianance interactive turn key exhibition using some tiles, a fat wall plug (depending on how many tiles you want to light up), the PC box, and a couple of self-powered PC speakers for sound effects. A floor of 64 tiles can be set up in a new location in about a half day by 2-3 people. Depending on the size of the floor, visitors can experience a set of reactive effects and can play a variety of games:
In Football, visitors chase and try to jump on a virtual ball that is indicated by a brightly lit white tile. The virtual ball skitters about, bouncing off the walls and the visitors and producing appropriate sound effects. Visitor collisions increase the speed of play. Successfully stomping on the ball results in a victory reward: winners are surrounded by a halo of light that grows and fades away.
Pong splits the floor into two halves, with a virtual paddle on each half of the floor collectively controlled by the center of mass of the player locations on that half of the floor, leading to spontaneous cooperation among strangers.
Boogie is a collective dance game or prototype automatic disco. The power spectra of the analog load information from active dancers are analyzed to extract dominant frequencies, and a consensus drives the overall rhythm and volume of the dance mix. Inactive participants who simply stand or walk about are ignored, so a few active dancers can easily dominate the rhythm of the entire space.
Gunfight labels tracked players with lit tiles; players use "hop" gestures-where they jump to an adjacent tile-to shoot virtual bullets toward other players to extinguish them from the game. Players can use "pogo" gestures-where they jump up and land on the same tile-to temporarily surround themselves with an impenetrable shield. The surviving victor is rewarded with impressive collapsing rings of green covering the entire floor.
In HotLava, which was inspired by a television game show, two players compete to find their way across the floor on a hidden path. If they step off the path, their half of the floor flashes an angry red, and they must start over from the beginning, while trying to remember their previous steps.
In Squash, each tile on the floor is randomly illuminated with one of two colors. Two teams are formed, and each team is assigned a color. The teams then compete to see who can first extinguish all the tiles of their own team's color by stepping on them. (Stepping on tiles of the opponent's color only wastes time and helps the opposition.) This game is good for a battle of the sexes.
Lightspace interactive luminous floor (Cambridge MA) They can sell or rent you an interactive LED floor with small tiles. Not clear what are capabilities or specifications. Makes beautiful reactive dance floor.
Georgia Tech's SmartFloor (2000) They made a tactile floor (or at least a few floor tiles) intended for making rooms and buildings smarter about where people are; they studied how a person could be identified by their dynamic ground reaction force footstep load profile.
Litefoot Homepage (1997). This tactile floor from the University of Limerick was intended for dance composition.
Interbus club A useful source of information for Interbus developers.
PhoenixContact More interbus and factory automation supplies, including the (hard to find) serial port diagnositc interface to Interbus, suitable for a very small, low reliability installation.
Hilscher GmbH They make the Interbus PCI master card that we used (largely because it has a Linux driver).
Interlink Electroics, FSR makers They make the FSRs (Force Sensitive Resistors) that we used in our floor tiles. This is one of two FSR sources world-wide. They are tied closely to IEE, which makes seat occupancy detection for car maker air bag deployment.
Kistler - measure. analyze. innovate.Another supplier of force sensors, mostly load cells, which are based on piezoelectric crystals and are much more precise and accurate than FSRs, but also much thicker, more expensive, and more difficult electonically to interface.