Trackmate is an open source initiative to create an inexpensive, do-it-yourself tangible tracking system. Using the project's Tracker software, any computer can recognize tagged objects and their corresponding position, rotation, and color information when placed on the imaging surface.
Using a system like the one shown here, you can track physical objects on a surface and use them to control and manipulate spatial applications on your computer. Since objects are each uniquely tagged, they can easily be mapped to particular actions, information, or relationships. See the LusidOSC project for more details about spatial applications.
Step 1: Gather all the parts
- a 12 inch x 12 inch x 1/4 inch clear acrylic or plexi sheet (often sold as a table protector)
- two 2 inch C clamps
- two thin adhesive-backed rubber feet (in a pinch, just use a few pieces of tape)
- a clamp light (found in most hardware stores)
- a 13W (60W equivalent) compact fluorescent bulb
- a mini camera tripod (found in camera stores, or online)
And finally, you need a webcam. I recommend the PS3 Eye since it is a very nice camera for the price (~$33) and there are now drivers for Windows and Mac. But any decent quality webcam that allows manual functionality (i.e., exposure control and focus) should work with this setup.
You can find most of the parts at your local hardware store (and save the cost/time of ordering online). The parts are also available via Amazon.com; here is an amazon.com list to help you find everything you need.