Thinking Tech

'Wonkavision' TV lets you reach inside, control the action

'Wonkavision' TV lets you reach inside, control the action

Posting in Design

Amedia student has built a television that lets users reach in and toy with the action on-screen a la Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory.

2011 was the year that sci-fi fans saw some of their favorite technologies brought to life. A few of these include a Star Trek-style holodeck, a Back to the Future-inspired hoverboard, a Harry Potter-like invisibility cloak and a commercially viable jetpack.

But wait! The year isn't over yet. And the latest entry into the fantasy-becomes-reality arena is perhaps the most classic of them all.

Jayne Vidheecharoen, a media student at the Art Center College of Design in California has built a television that lets users reach in and toy with the action on-screen a la Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory. You can see her demonstrate the technology in this video as she sticks her hand inside the box and re-positions some virtual action figures waiting at a street corner.

For those of you don't quite recall or aren't familiar with the special effects "Wonkavision" scene from the movie, here's the scene on youtube.

Surprisingly, creating the illusion was a low-tech affair and involved easy-to-find parts such as "foam core, duct tape, fabric scrap, a desk lamp, an end table, a borrowed monitor and the cheapest webcam possible." The backdrop is a green screen projection of three-dimensional spaces borrowed from Google Streetview. The television is also connected to the internet, enabling users from all over the world to get their hands all in there.

While the box doesn't go as far as letting users control animated live-action scenes, she does see a commerical use for her invention.

"I can speculate about a ton of potential ways people might use these boxes, from building entire parallel worlds to cross-country puppet shows," Vidheecharoen told the Daily Mail.

(via Kickstarter)

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure