Please stay tuned at this site for detailed installation instructions. In the mean time, the information below should give you an idea of what is needed for an installation. The software will soon be freely available for download at this site (in the mean time, contact one of the developers). It is easy to configure - expertise not required.
|Equipment||Description||Potential Vendor*||Estimated cost|
|Kinect360 Sensor||Microsoft||Microsoft store, Amazon, NewEgg||$130|
|Mac Mini Computer||Base model is sufficient (no keyboard, no mouse, no monitor)||Apple Computer||$600-$750|
|Cabling, etc||ethernet, power||many sources||$50|
|Screen||requires reasonable projection surface||$0-$500|
|Video Projector with lens||varies||many sources||$300-$5,000|
Installation requires mounting of the hardware and the delivery of an Ethernet connection (wired or wireless) and (modest) AC power.
As shown at right, an ideal installation has the projector and Kinect sensor mounted on or near the ceiling, projecting the image over the heads of the participants. This is not necessary, but will limit shadows that unaesthetically block part of the image.
The choice of projectors is wide and varied. One desires a projector that can handle being on continuously for the intended projection period, is easily mounted (to the ceiling, for example), and can project up to 1024x768 (XGA) resolution. Most importantly, the projector must be able to overcome ambient lighting, which will vary widely with the installation. The best approach is to bring demo projectors to your site and try them out.
Software is free.
To save lamp life, one might want to turn the projector off at certain hours. This should not be done with a simple AC timer, as projectors like to have a 1-2 min cool down period with a fan running. So either a person should turn the projector on and off or you should look into projectors that are programmable to turn themselves on and off. The latter are not that hard to come by, but do your own research.
The projector and the Kinect device are ideally mounted near each other, though this is not strictly required. Either can be mounted right-side up or upside down.
The computer needs to be located near enough to the projector to have a video connection to the display (typically, VGA or HDMI, although there are newer wireless ways to have some projectors connect to the computer). Fortunately, the Mac Mini is very small and there are mounts that can be purchased to position the Mac Mini most anywhere (security against theft or tampering will be your primary concern). An ethernet connection (wired or wireless) to the computer is required for content updates (although in the event of a network outage, the playground will still operate normally from locally cached content).
The computer obtains all Molecular Playground content updates by initiating contact with the server at UMass via a standard WEB connection (port 80). So it can be placed behind a very secure firewall, if desired.