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Computer Science showcase invites visitors to engage their senses in real and virtual worlds

Event on April 13 will feature over 40 projects by 60 students
April 12, 2017

From the pure fun to helpful homecare innovations, the CPSC Showcase on April 13 highlights the talents of undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Computer Science. Photo courtesy of Tony Tang, University of Calgary.

Playing a virtual guitar: Jackie Luc and Philmo Gu’s Haptics Simulation of a Stringed Instrument combines touch and control with technology. Photo courtesy of Jackie Luc and Philmo Gu.

There are not many places where you can experience what it would feel like to “see” the inner workings of the human psyche, play a virtual guitar, or view a knitted incarnation of your face.

Visitors to the annual Computer Science Showcase on Thursday, April 13, however, can do all of that and more.

From the pure fun to helpful home-care innovations, the event highlights the talents of undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Computer Science. Despite its name, the showcase is not just for show. Visitors can see, touch, and immerse themselves in over 40 student projects that engage the senses in the real and virtual worlds.

Undergraduate students Jackie Luc and Philmo Gu’s Haptics Simulation of a Stringed Instrument is an exploration of computer haptics to create the feeling of plucking or strumming virtual strings on a four-string guitar. “Computer haptics would, if done correctly, create a realistic feeling— as if you were to touch the strings in reality,” Luc says. “Our project is as simple as plug, calibrate, and play! You use the device to move around in three dimensions and interact with virtual objects. Some examples of what you can feel include force feedback from pushing into a wall, friction and texture of different surfaces.”

Kevin Ta, a graduate student and research assistant, has two projects in the showcase. One, WaterRush, is a game that combines the most exciting features of Orienteering and Capture the Flag. “What inspired me to create this was my fascination with how the technology we use in video games can be used to stage real life games,” he explains. “Music, sound effects, and physical human abilities can all interplay to create interesting user experiences.” Ta has also created the AR Mirror, an augmented reality system that allows fashion designers to create low-fidelity interactive clothing prototypes. “My goal is to get designers to think about how clothing can be both social and personal means of expressing style and how technology can change these meanings,” he says.

Joanna Huynh, Laura Berry, and Christopher Miller, a team of undergraduates, have focused their efforts on a system designed to help people with mobility issues. Their automated lifting toilet is a system that is designed to help people with the initial lifting and unbending of the knees involved in standing from a seated position. It works using four posts that lift the seat and gently tilt it forward, triggered when the user applies pressure to the handles on either side of the toilet. Says Huynh, “We were inspired to do this because one of us has a family member who died of multiple sclerosis and had trouble doing a lot of things including using the washroom in the later part of his life. We wanted to give people experiencing similar problems a sense of independence and control.”

Event Details

The CPSC Showcase will be held in the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, Studios D and E on Thursday, April 13. Admission to the event is free, and anyone interested is invited to drop in between 1:30 and 4 p.m.

Some of the many other exciting projects visitors can expect to see are:

  • Lace Your Face: Photo Knitting Booth, a photo booth where you can take a picture of yourself and see it realized in yarn.
  • Schooling Fish Simulation, a model demonstrating fish schooling with the flocking behaviour algorithm.
  • EZ Clean, a household cleaning device designed for people with osteoarthritis.
  • Anthropomorphic Information Visualization, where users can immerse themselves in the virtual world to explore an emotional dataset in a brand new way. The user has the ability to scale their perspective in VR. When the user is at a large scale, they can see an overview of the dataset patterns from above. When the user is at a smaller scale, they can talk to each datapoint (represented as a human-like avatar) on a personal basis.
  • Project Koffee (Koffee-Time), an automated coffee machine.
  • Derby League of Destruction, a battle arena-style driving game.