I'd like to create an interactive media experience powered by Ubuntu, incorporating projected video, music, and assorted strange input devices. Has anyone used Ubuntu to orchestrate something like this? Can you recommend any specific software/hardware?
Here are instructions for getting Ubuntu to detect a Wii remote, which could easily be hacked into an artistic prop or some inconspicuous object.
You could use Motion to detect the movement of people walking through your installation.
I haven't used it personally, but here is an interesting DIY project for an automated NERF turret, which detects a moving target, tracks it, shoots and plays sounds.
Are you talking about setting a machine as a Media Center / DVR (Digital Video Recorder, aka PVR)?
Here are three interesting solutions for this:
Mythbuntu is an Ubuntu derivative containing MythTV which is an open source DVR. It is very complete and has a growing community. You can watch/record/manage your TV shows, movies, music, etc... It has a very full-featured media library.
Official website: www.mythbuntu.org
Moovida (aka Elisa)
Moovida is a media center application that allows you to easily create your digital library and watch any of your media (DivX, h264, avi, asf, wmv, mkv, flv, mov, ogg, and almost any audio format...) on your TV.
It has a Youtube Feature, covert art for your music, Last.fm support. You can play your music by genre, rating and even acoustic similarity. Moovida 2.0 is available in over 20 languages.
Official website: www.moovida.com
Enna is a Media Center application and is based on the powerful Enlightenment Foundations Libraries (EFL) as for its graphical user interface and GeeXboX libraries as for multimedia playback and information retrieval.
Its main features are Music/Video playing, Bookstore (GoComics and OneManga), Photo gallery, Weather, Media database...
Official website: enna.geexbox.org