The trip started with South by Southwest – a good place for showcasing new stuff. We used this opportunity to release a new version of NI mate (v1.15) and a new Blender plugin. We also made some good contacts to industry players that should help us in launching the next things on our roadmap: our Unity plugin as well as a new, much improved Cinema 4D plugin. One of the most interesting panels I had the pleasure to watch at SXSW was definitely the Oculus Rift VR talk, where industry veterans like Chris Roberts (Wing Commander etc.) were talking about how they think NI/NUI based user experiences will be vital for VR to really take off. Definitely an interesting conclusion for all of us working on this topic.
About a week after SXSW closed (which I used to drive a car 2200 miles from Austin to San Francisco), it was time for Game Connection America. This time around I’d reserved myself a table at the event for promoting NI mate, but our NI mate based interactive children’s story Kinetic Stories was also running as one of the “Selected Projects” (meaning best game projects for GCA 2013). We didn’t win this time around, but it was still an honor to present the concept to a crowd made up of many of the brightest game designers on the planet.
Our flyer from Game Connection America 2013
After GCA it was time for the last trade show of the trip – the Game Developers Conference. We were graciously invited to show off our developments by the nice people at OpenNI and PrimeSense. We shared the booth’s company space with the awesome Faceshift – the makers real-time markerles facial motion capture tool. This year the GDC proved to be perhaps the most fruitful of all the events, with an amazing amount of game industry people (a total of about 200-300) taking the time to try out Kinetic Stories and NI mate.
All in all I consider the trip an outstanding success. We also ended up showcasing our up and coming VJ software “The V” at both SXSW (three nights with Silent Frisco, made possible by the talent of Austin based VJ and friend Joao Beira) as well as the Night Club and Bar Convention (a two day trade show at Las Vegas – an extra stop along the way). As a result, “The V” has now had it’s first official showcases in the States and although the software is still a few months away from release, it’s definitely getting there.
DJ Kentaro at the Silent Frisco event in SXSW. Visuals “The V”. Picture courtesy of Tiago Gama Rocha.
In celebration of this year’s South by Southwest 2013 festival in Austin, we’re releasing NI mate v1.15. This release of NI mate brings many improvements to the old features and some support functionality for even better plugin possibilities. We’ve also released the OpenNI v2 version of NI mate 1.15 through the OpenNI Arena.
The first plugin to get the support for the new features of NI mate is our Blender addon (see tutorial video below). We’ll be releasing an update to the other plugins within the next month. As the changes in Blender addon are quite big, we decided to call it “NI mate Tools” instead of just “NI mate”. This should keep all existing addon uses valid, while making it possible to use the new addon properly. Grab the new addon from here and the sample .blend and NI mate config to get started straight away!
All skeleton orientation data is now sent through OSC as quaternions (4 floats in the order w, x, y, z) as this makes the rotations easier to handle in many programs and reduces the amount of sent data at the same time. The orientations are now also smoothed using the skeleton smoothing value.
Activation area coordinates are now supported in the Processing tab.
The skeleton “Omni mode” OSC path can now be changed.
All of the main output modes can now be quickly toggled on and off with checkboxes next to the tab names.
Code folding in the Processing tab
Number of active users value for MIDI & OSC Controllers.
Full licence features/changes
The “Linear Depth” live view mode is now “Encoded Depth” and provides the full depth information available from the sensors. Read more about this change in the documentation.
A new special option to “Only send torso location” when “Basic & Orientation” skeleton OSC mode is selected.
“load” and “import” OSC commands now support the file name in the same string instead of two consecutive OSC strings, e.g. “load profile_name” and “import profile/path.config”.
Activation area “corner” mode, which allows for user activation at specific points instead of inside the defined area. In this mode the area coordinates also measure the distance to the corner points instead of being the barycentric coordinates for the area.
Area coordinates now include the “active user id” as a fift value.
Activation area coordinates were not sent properly.
Multilicence device detection crashed easily.
Skeleton orientation data wasn’t correct in mirror mode.
The UI layout was made more logical in many places.
The “Possible conflict” popup is now history. Only one instance of NI mate can run at a time and trying to start a new instance is handled correctly without warnings.
NI mate OSC commands now require the address “/NI mate” in order to be recognized correctly.
NI mate version is now correctly displayed in OS X Finder and Windows Explorer.
Introduction to the new “NI mate Tools” Blender plugin”
While preparing for the next release of NI mate, I thought I’d take a bit of time to write up about the coming US trip. I will start the trip from the (in)famous South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. This year SXSW runs from the 8th to the 17th of March, with the trade fair running from the 10th to the 13th at the Austin Convention Center. Just as last year, we’ll be sharing some tables with other cool Finnish startups. If you’re around Austin during those days, do come check out some demos of both NI mate and our upcoming VJ software (codenamed “The V” for now). Even if you’re not officially taking part in South by Southwest, do get in touch and we can meet for some of that awesome Texan barbeque.
After Austin, I’ll take a week off to move my base of operations to San Francisco, California where we’ll be having a table for presenting NI mate at Game Connection America. This year the event is running in parallel with the Game Developers Conference in which we had a stand presence last year (and are still looking at this year as well). I think in the end you will be able to catch me at both events. In any case if you’re around San Francisco from the 24th to to the 29th of March, do get in touch so we can meet up!
During the in-between days I will be doing a slow road trip towards the west coast. If you live or work somewhere along the trail and would like to meet up (for business or beer – or both), don’t hesitate to get in contact! To end this post, here’s a pic from last year’s SXSW trade show when I got to show off NI mate on Austin’s local KEYE TV:
Edit 7.1.2013: As fate dictated, v1.13 was released with an innate bug that manifested itself on some of our users Mac OS X running computers. Because of this we’ve now released v1.14 which should finally fix all problems for all OS. We’ve also learned from this and from now on you will always find a few previous versions of NI mate available from our download pages. We’ll make an exception with v1.13 however, which we’ve deleted from the server permanently. Good riddance!
We just released NI mate v1.13. This is an intermediary release which should fix any remaining problems with model 1473 Kinects as well as a minor bug in the audio input device selection. If you weren’t having problems this isn’t really a must download, but if you’re affected by either of these two bugs then please do update. The next update to NI mate should be available in February 2013.
As it’s the first post of the year we thought it would be nice to take this opportunity to share a bit of news about our second major software project. We’re calling this piece of software “The V” (for now just a working name) developed from a simple prototype we created for the filming of the music video “Scars” for the Finnish electro outfit Phantom.
Since the release of the video at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas in March 2012, it went on to be featured on prominent music media such as Pitchfork, Go TV and Australian TV’s The Rage. This was in big part thanks to the wonderful Romy from The XX who posted the video on band’s blog and later went on to state that she thought the video was “beautiful” in a special episode ABC’s The Rage hosted by the band.
Inspired by the positive response to both Phantom’s music and the real-time visuals we were creating for the band for their shows, we’ve devoted a good part of our efforts during the past 10 months to bringing the software to a production capable level. Though a lot of work remains to be done, all the ideas for the first release of the software are basically there. What remains is basically refining the UI, testing and a bit more testing. We’re still actively touring with the band (you can catch us at Eurosonic and by:Larm in the coming months) as well as doing VJ shows at Helsinki based dance parties.
Without going too much in to the details (it’s too early to spill all the beans), “The V” will basically be a VJ and visualization tool that bases itself on modern 3D depth sensing cameras such as the Microsoft Kinect. The software will work independently, but will also integrate with NI mate. For the performing VJ, the two software will very much be complementary technologies. We’re expecting to release the software during the first half of 2013. To get a glimpse of the possibilities, check out the real-time teaser we released for New Year’s eve:
Happy New Year 2013 everybody! We’ve decided to continue the Christmas sale with a New Year’s sale which will run until the 7th of January 2013. This means NI mate is still -20% off for another week. Get a license now and get set for a whole new year of natural natural user interfacing through NI mate. Without spilling too many beans early 2013 additions will include state recording within NI mate, BVH exporting and an official plugin for the Unity game engine.
Now as promised, we’ve also produced a new tutorial that explains how to get the processing integration working. The tutorial will also help you make your first – though very basic – processing application for your sensor device using NI mate. Have fun and a fantastic New Year 2013!
Hey friends! Surely you didn’t think that we’d leave you all without holding a proper christmas sale did you? Starting from right now and lasting until the New Year’s eve (31st of December, 2012) NI mate is selling at -20% off (128€+23% VAT for a total of 157,50€). Because we’re such nice people, we’re extending this sale retrospectively to everybody who purchased a license during the month of December. So if you did so, you get a little back. You deserve it!
I regretfully inform you also that starting from the 1st of January 2013, the Finnish VAT goes up by a percent (up to 24%, “we love the government”). This change affects purchases made from within the EU. Purchases outside of EU countries are not affected. Taking all this in to consideration, this might be a good time to get a license. If you’re willing to take our word for it, we have some amazing stuff lined up for the next updates. :)
Christmas comes early this year for us here at Delicode as we get to announce the release of NI mate v1.12! This release fixes some major bugs (namely the model 1473 issue), brings support for Kinect for Windows devices (through our new OpenNI v2 compliant build for Windows available on the freshly rebooted OpenNI Arena, read more below) and – probably most interestingly for our existing user community – introduces integrated support for the very cool and fun to use processing programming language.
So why processing? We’ve always hoped to make NI mate for the designer, the animator, the game developer, the musician, the VJ, the dancer, the interactive or visual artist, the student and so on. It’s a tool for people bursting with creative ideas for devices like the Kinect, but who feel intimidated by the thought of immediately diving deep in to code. In thinking of ways how we could make programming fun for sensor devices like the Kinect, we came about the idea of integrating processing in to NI mate.
Processing is an open source programming language and environment for people who want to create images, animations, and interactions. Initially developed to serve as a software sketchbook and to teach fundamentals of computer programming within a visual context, Processing also has evolved into a tool for generating finished professional work. Today, there are tens of thousands of students, artists, designers, researchers, and hobbyists who use Processing for learning, prototyping, and production. -Processing.org
Having now done this, it is our sincere hope that we get many of you to try out how simple it can be to code cool stuff for the Kinect (or which ever supported device you have)! In order to encourage this development and – especially – sharing of all kinds of cool ideas, we are already planning to hold some fun competitions during the winter and coming spring. Stay tuned for more information on those! :)
New features and bug fixes in v1.12:
Support for model 1473 of the Kinect for XBOX (no more zero ID issues upon registering)
Integrated Processing (Processing 2.0 beta 7 upwards tested and recommended!) editor with automatic skeleton, OSC controller and live feed support. Be sure to check out the cool examples further down this post!
Skeleton tracking is no longer stopped momentarily on profile changes
Skeleton parts with low confidence (these are not sent from NI mate) are drawn red in the live view tab
The profile saving & loading logic was changed to a cleaner logic: at startup NI mate loads a profile called “Default” and all changes are saved to that until another profile is loaded. When an other profile is loaded all changes will effect that profile only
The pause button now also slows down the sensor update frequency to lower the demand for cpu power
Bug fix: the skeleton is now drawn in correct aspect ratio in the live view tab if the window is stretched
More on the processing support:
The new Processing tab holds a fully featured Processing code editor with autocompletion, syntax highlighting and tabbed editing
All of the data that NI mate can output through OSC and the live view modes is directly available for the processing codes as automatically generated variables
NI mate makes it super easy to import your existing Processing sketches to NI mate via the “Processing -> Import Sketch” option, so now you can add Kinect / Xtion interactions to any of your previous sketches instantly
You can also export the processing sketch directly from NI mate to a self-contained executable for all platforms that NI mate supports to enable quick deployment to other computers. (The export functionality is only available for full NI mate licence owners)
Read the full details of the Processing integration from the NI mate documentation (to be fully updated on 19.12.2012)
When ever you feel like it, here are a couple of nice example profiles for you to get started:
Simply right-click on the above link and select “Save as…” to save the profile file to your computer. Import the profile to NI mate with “Profile -> Import…” and click “Run” in the Processing tab.
If you want to get more serious, you could try this super cool Processing tutorial for the Kinect we found on CreativeApplications.net. In fact we went as far as converting the sketches (after receiving permission from their author Amnon Owed) in to using NI mate’s Processing support – in a process that took five minutes from an experienced coder. After checking out the what the final results will look like from the video found below, feel free to download the profiles here and try them yourself: NI_mate_processing_lines.config and NI_mate_processing_geometry.config
Update 19.12.2012: We’ve just released v1.12 which fixes this issue. Read more here.
Update 10.12.2012: We’ve received the affected device in post and we now feel confident to have found a solution to the problem. This means we’ll probably manage to wrap up the new v1.12 release of NI mate this week, which fixes this issue – and introduces integrated processing support!
Update 5.12.2012: We’ve found an affected device, which should make its way to us by the start of next week. We expect to have found a solution to this problem by the end of next week.
The last few days we’ve received a significant number of reports from would-be users who have run across the issue of the serial being recognized to be 0000000000000000 by NI mate. We’ve concluded that this problem relates to a recent model change in the Kinect for the XBOX 360. This model is marked 1473 instead of the previous 1414. This effectively will prevent you from registering for a trial license as well as buying one.
You can rest assured we will fix this issue with the utmost urgency, but as we’re still waiting to get our hands on a specimen from this particular batch this might still take a few days. Meanwhile if you are considering buying for use with NI mate, we would propose getting the older 1414 model if you can. You can check the model number either from outside of the box or from the bottom of the Kinect (see the pictures at the end of the post).
If your Kinect is currently affected, please check this blog to find updates on this issue. You can also send us a message through the feedback form on the site and we will inform you by email as soon as the problem has been solved.
This month will take us to two high quality conferences: Slush and Game Connection Europe. First one up will be Slush (21.-22.11.2012), the Nordic region’s largest startup conference held yearly in Helsinki, Finland. We’ll be showcasing both NI mate and our interactive children’s storybook concept Kinected Stories on our stand. This year the event is combined with the annual autumn meeting of the Finnish chapter of ACM SIGGRAPH: SyysGraph. Janne and myself will be giving a short presentation about how to use NI mate with Blender to make Kinect enabled game prototypes. The presentation will be in the same vein, though a bit shorter, than our recent talk at the Blender Conference in Amsterdam.
The second conference that we’ll be taking part in is Game Connection Europe, held in Paris, France (28.-30.11.2012). Kinected Stories was picked one of the Selected Projects for the conference (placing in the top 15 out of 135 participating projects) and is thus also in the running for Game Connection 2012 Best Project. Though I will be mostly focusing my efforts on promoting Kinected Stories, I will definitely be available for anybody interested in talking about NI mate.
So if you’re around Helsinki or Paris during the next two weeks, do get in touch!
This is a proud day as NI mate v1.11 is the first release to support Ubuntu 12.04! Please bear in mind that this is the first Ubuntu (in fact any kind of GNU/Linux) release that we’ve made and could still prove unstable in some situations. The Ubuntu installation instructions can be found at the bottom of this post. Other Ubuntu and Linux versions could also work, but we don’t guarantee this at the moment. We look forward to feedback on this release from all you Linux afficionados!
New features in v1.11 for all:
Fully scalable UI. You can now resize the UI freely.
The main UI window position and size is now saved on exit.
Option to send/not send the ghost feed as the alpha channel of other live views.
For full licence owners there’s even more new stuff in v1.11:
New Color ID live view mode to make it easy to pick each user separately from the feed. For more info see the documentation.
MIDI triggers can now be drawn over Live view outputs.
Detached & full screen live view modes to make it easier to see what’s happening when adjusting other parameters.
The joint orientation wasn’t always sent properly even though the joint location was sent.
Ubuntu installation instructions:
Doubleclick on the package and install via Ubuntu Software Center. (the installation will complete with the package still showing the “Install” option until the package database is updated)
if you don’t have qt libraries installed this will complain about missing dependencies, the dependencies can be fixed with:sudo apt-get -f install
If you have plugged the sensor to the computer before installing NI mate, please restart the computer after installation.
Please note that in order to use the connected sensor, NI mate needs to stop the default sensor driver in the Ubuntu kernel from being used. This will effectively stop the sensor from working as a webcam.
As always, thanks for using NI mate! Now go get NI mate v1.11 from the download page!