Arnon Yaar

Arnon Yaar

Born in Israel in 1970, Arnon's experience and fields of interest range from skydiving, through sculpturing, to children's education, engineering and interaction design. He holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Tel Aviv University and a Master's degree in Interactive Telecommunications from New York University.
Arnon currently works as an independent consultant in New York, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His recent work includes electronic musical toys, interactive installations, web-based playgrounds and educational environments for companies like HBO, and Thomas the Tank Engine.

Beam of Light

Beam of Light is a fun to use, buttons-free system, which simplifies and illustrates a unique process of 3 dimensional scanning. The system doesn't treat the scanned user as a passive "object". He has an active roll in the creation and therefore it is an interactive 3D scanner.
The piece is based on people's interaction with a static flat beam of light. It lets users explore concepts of light and space, body and surface, as familiar shapes are broken into curved lines and then transformed back into a new object in front of their eyes.

About the process
Placing an object in front of a narrow beam of light highlights one particular slice of the object, revealing the curves that make up this slice. The light draws an accurate picture of what is in its path. Creating enough slices in this way can reveal the entire surface of the object. Beam of Light gives people a chance to experience such a process. It gives an immediate feedback and allows playful interaction with the light. The system has several "rules" that the users may figure-out while experimenting with it. One such rule is the fact that snapshots of the slices are being taken at constant time intervals. The users can then either behave accordingly or not: Move forward steadily and you will be scanned accurately. Move in any other way, and you create an abstract virtual sculpture.
The interaction is intended to intrigue and amuse everyone, from children to 3D experts. All it takes is a beam of light, a video camera (plus a computer behind the scenes) and - of course - a curious playful user.

More about the piece itself
One of my goals in designing Beam of Light was to simplify both the system and the process as much as possible. For example, the fact that there is a light beam only on one side of the user. The outcome is surprisingly satisfying, since our eyes and minds are so well trained in assembling shaded objects. Other examples are the presentation mechanism itself (assembled curved lines as opposed to a full drawn surface) and the activation mechanism, which is fully automated and has no real interface. The scanning mechanism itself ignores the real depth. It assumes that the user moved in a constant speed. On the other hand, it gives users the freedom to play with different depth between consecutive layers. In addition, both the camera and the light beam are visible. As a result, users have the opportunity to explore the process and figure out the "making of" the piece, a fact that makes the interaction more entertaining and the scanning results more interesting.
Beam of Light, as presented here, is a result of an effort that span over the last 2 years, in which I invented this scanning mechanism and experimented with it in different mediums such as water and air, with different lighting conditions and different presentation methods. It ended up as my thesis project at the Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU and was presented there on December 2000.

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