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Encroachment: The Buggiest Software on Earth!

EncroachmentEncroachment was a study for my ICM final that actually turned out to be pretty cool on its own. The online version, which uses the mouse and keyboard instead of a Wiimote is here. Play with it!

I hate cockroaches. But they do lend themselves to creepy, jerky motion, which is exactly what I needed for this particular experiment. I wanted to do two things in a simple sketch form before porting them over to Michelle and my flowering vines:

  1. Orient the cockroaches correctly along their direction of motion knowing only their current x and y positions and those one loop previous.
  2. Get the Wiimote working reliably.

Orienting the roaches was accomplished through trial and error, and there still seems to be some directional ambiguity when certain roaches are moving at ambiguous angles that given my code and slight variations yield arctangents 180 degrees from each other, causing the roach to flash and turn manically. Because the effect conveys a kind of skittishness that I associate with roaches and adds to the program’s overall creepiness, I didn’t try to correct it.

This is the code:

void display() {
    float slope = (y1-y)/(x1-x);
    float theta = atan(slope);
    if(vx<0 && vy>0) rotate(theta-PI/4);
    if(vx>0 && vy>0) rotate(theta+PI/4);
    if(vx>0 && vy<0) rotate(theta+PI/4);
    if(vx<0 && vy<0) rotate(theta-PI/4);

The Wiimote

Getting the Wiimote working with Processing is not terribly difficult. It does, however, require a number of downloads and tweaks. First thing, you need to install the oscP5 library for Processing which allows it, among other things, access serial information over Bluetooth from the Wiimote, which as luck would have it is a Bluetooth device. It’s available here. Then you need to install the interface that allows the Mac and the Wiimote to speak over Bluetooth. I used darwiinosc by Andreas Schlegel which can be downloaded here.

Once both of those are installed, you simply run darwiinosc, connect the Wiimote by holding down buttons 1 and 2, and you should start to see the accelerometer readings graphed in the console. To get Processing to recognize the Wii, you need to import oscP5 library and set up the Wiimote objects you’ll be using in your sketch (buttons, tilt, IR, acceleration, etc). There is clear and exhaustive example code included with the library.

Two things that did take me a little while to figure out were the syntax for getting the buttons to work and the IR tracking. The first two lines of the following code were confusing the hell out of me until I realized that this function contains both the onPress and onRelease actions and that the eponymous boolean variable tells the function which to execute. This is how I got the Wiimote to vibrate only when you pressed the trigger:

void buttonA(int theValue) {
    buttonA = (theValue==1) ? true:false;
    if (buttonA) {
      roaches.add(new Roach(trueX-100,trueY-137));
    else {

The Wiimote is an infrared camera that can track up to four separate infrared LEDs. I’m lazy and only used one, but that did give me kind of a lopsided motion that I had to account for with hard-coded and totally inelegant adjustments. The IR function stores twelve variables in an array, the x and y positions and relative size of each of four possible LEDs. I just used the x and y position of one in a battery-powered sensor bar that I think came from Game Stop, as distance from the screen was not a concern.

Wii GunAfter that was working, all I had to do was find a gun attachment for the Wii that felt enough like a real gun to conjure the visceral emotional connotations we needed for the final project (the realism of the gun for the purpose of creating and killing roaches seems beside the point). This one, which cost about $15, has an ingenious little piece of plastic that slides along the top of the remote and depresses the A button when you pull the upper trigger and a lever on the underside to press the B button when you pull the lower trigger. Perfect!

And here it is projected up on the wall!


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