Kinect to WorldWide Telescope with Starfield

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: Channel 9.

For our last Kinect and Coding4Fun post of 2016, I thought this project pretty appropriate...

Remember the WorldWide Telescope?

The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a visualization environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope—bringing together imagery from the world’s best ground- and space-based telescopes for the exploration of the universe. WWT blends terabytes of images, information, and stories from multiple sources into a seamless, immersive, rich media experience. Explorers of all ages will feel empowered to explore and understand the cosmos using WWT’s simple and powerful user interface.

What if you could hook the WWT up to the Kinect, providing a one-of-a-kind experience? And what if they provided the source too?


Starfield is an installation by the French art collective Lab212. It involves a swing, the projection of a star field in front of it and a Microsoft Kinect.

As the visitor rides the swing, the camera tracks the angles of the ropes and from there calculates the visitors eye position in three-dimensional space. Based on this information, the emplacement of the stars adapt in real-time to create the illusion of swaying through outer space.


The Starfield installation was initially created in 2012 by Cyril Diagne and Tobias Muthesius and was a instant hit on the internet. When preparing it for the exhibition at the MuDA the idea came up to hook it up with the WorldWide Telescope, an open-source software which allows to visualise the entire observable universe in 3D. The MuDA's partner Microsoft then put Cyril Diagne, one of the artists behind the artwork, in touch with Jonathan Fay, the lead architect of the WorldWide Telescope.

Starfield uses the incredible open-source software WorldWide Telescope to let the visitors explore hundreds of terabytes of sky, earth and planet data of the observable universe.

This collaboration enables visitors to now experience the installation with a new dimension. From accurate star constellations to the tiniest craters of the earth's moon, the entire universe known to humanity can be explored while sitting on a swing, swaying back and forth and daydreaming about space and belonging.

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