June 1, 2006

Motion Sensing and iSight Hacks on the Mac

If you own a late model Powerbook, or a Macbook, your machine has a motion sensor inside to shut off the hard drive in case of a tumble. Two hacks taking advantage of of the sensor in inventive ways have recently made the rounds of the Macosphere. Light Saber, turns your mac into a light saber, and SmackMac which ties into the excellent Mac virtual desktop utility Desktop Manager to allow you to smack your way through desktops. Both hacks are based on the work of Amit Singh a writer/programmer, who was the first person to publicize methods of using the sudden motion sensor creatively. These hacks led me on a search for other hacks which use the mac motion sensor. As of yet there are only a couple but I assume more are in the pipeline... (onscreen dice anyone?, how about a 'jiggle your dock icons with a bump' hack?)

Amit Singh's original proof of concepts:
Rotate D triggers screen orientation rotation.
HID Device turns the movement of the screen into an input device. Singh put up a nice page describing how to use HID Device to control games.
Tracker simply prints out the movement data.
Visualizer shows the orientation of your mac in 3D.
Stable Window is a cool little hack that puts up a window that tries to compensate for the rotation.

Erling Ellison's Smackbook Hack is described here (look in the comments for complied versions) (and as a sidenote, Ellison's blog is only 2 entries long and already looks promising... I haven't seen a good Mac Hack blog in a long time).
Smack Exposé and Bump Tunes both riff off SmackBook and are self explanatory.

Smack Exposé and Bump Tunes both riff off SmackBook and are self explanatory.

Dash Level is a dashboard widget that turns your mac into a level.

iAlertU is perhaps the most useful use of the motion sensor, it basically gives you a car alarm for your portable... if someone tries to move it, it goes off. Multialarm and Theft Sensor basically do the same thing.

MacSaber (your mac as a light saber in case you haven't downloaded it yet) can be found here. When my wife saw me giggling and playing with this, she stopped dead in her tracks, sputtered "Oh my god, you are such a nerd" and quickly left the room.

To turn your motion sensor off follow this hack.

All the googling for mac motion sensing led me to isight based motion sensing (ie motion sensor triggered video) which led me to iSight hacks.

Evocam has been around for a while and is still my favorite motion sensor video app. It's relatively cheap. I've yet to find a free alternative. With it you can produce motion sensor triggered video like this.

Motiondetect allows you to add motion detection effects to iMovie.

Miracle sight uses motion triggers to turn your mac into a magic mirror.

And speaking of magic mirrors, there are a number of iSight connected quartz composer hacks. The video basically goes through a filter and is output into quartz composition file. You can read these qtz files in Safari or use them as screensavers (just put them in Library/Screensaver) If you have a newer mac, you've seen this kind of effect in Photobooth (if you have an isight camera connected to your mac, click here to see a demo). The best of these can be found here:

Tatsuo Unemi's Crazy Mirror
Matthew Turk's Gravity Lens
& Sam Kass' Hack Page

Apple puts out a cool quick and dirty capture utility called Whacked TV. MulleSight is a similar small capture app and duhsoft creates a simple photo capture widget for the Dashboard.

EvoBarCode turns your iSight into a bar code reader and intergalactic allows you to capture images from the command line.

Finally if you are tired of video chatting in iChat you can check out Adobe's Flash based conferencing product Breeze (iChat is leagues better). I found it worked quite well with iSight.

And last but certainly not least is iGlasses which tweaks iSight's video output. This is most useful if you use iSight in dark rooms as it allows you to brighten up the image, change the contrast, etc.

That's quite a few... did I miss anything great?

posted at 02:49 PM by raul


06/03/06 10:51 AM

love the list!

06/04/06 01:36 AM

when can we control the mouse with the remote !

06/04/06 03:51 AM

I have released a new version of a standalone Gravity Lensing iSight hack with tunable parameters called gloyd. It's a bit slicker and more fun than the version linked here.


06/04/06 05:00 AM

I think Bump Tunes actually came well before the Smackbook Hack (you can see this from the dates of their respective blog posts). Therefore I wouldn't really call it a 'riff off', more a precursor.

06/04/06 08:13 AM

06/04/06 02:16 PM

ChatFX is like Photo Booth for video chats in iChat.

06/05/06 08:33 AM

why don't develop a flipper, using the motion sensor?

06/06/06 12:57 AM

You are misunderstanding Crazy Mirror. It is not simply filtering captured images but more deep trick. Look at the screen carefully then you can notice that the only moving objects are deformed. This is impossible by combination of quartz filters using quartz composer.

06/08/06 12:23 AM

More code related to the SmackBook:


Add to your list?

06/08/06 08:51 AM

"Look at the screen carefully then you can notice that the only moving objects are deformed. This is impossible by combination of quartz filters using quartz composer."

Impossible is a strong word. Actually, it's not even that hard. QC is very effective for this sort of thing.

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