Written by Alex Persian
A lot of people get that confused, sort of glaze eyed look when we mention that we work in the Visualization Lab. They aren’t quite sure what the lab is for, or what exactly we do there. This post’s goal is to clear up some of that confusion, and to explain in more detail about all of the cool stuff we do within the lab.
The lab itself is housed within the ISELF building on campus in room 204. Mark Gill is the leader and visionary (pun intended) of the lab itself along with the Associate Dean, Dr. Adel Ali. Within the lab though are quite a few student workers that have the opportunity to become involved in some very ambitious projects. The main students involved are Steve Henningsgard, Jose Araujo, Isaac Durant, and myself, Alex Persian. More students come in and help out when they can, and all students with an interest in software engineering or programming in general are more than welcome to come in and contribute and learn. We recently started up a bi-weekly meeting for students that are interested, so hopefully that will help to increase our numbers.
As far as the projects we work on is concerned it is incredibly varied. The main goal of the lab is to integrate with the classroom environment in order to improve the experience for students and faculty. This has produced some very compelling ideas for augmenting the normal classroom experience, along with some working applications that are in use on a daily basis. The most widely used program that has been created in the lab is a Virtual Whiteboard software that utilizes a server to connect nine different touch enabled tables and screens throughout the room. This allows users to edit and share files between computers effortlessly and intuitively by simply sliding them to the edges of the screens. The server knows the locations of each screen, and when a file or object is passed beyond the borders of one screen the server transfers that file to the next screen with the same properties. This creates a very intuitive and collaborative workspace for teams or groups to consolidate ideas or projects.
Outside of that we have been working with the rapid prototyping lab to produce 3D printed, virtual reality goggles that work with your phone, a few augmented reality applications for demos and fun, a virtual breadboard web app designed to help students learn how to build circuits in the computer engineering classes, and our most ambitious project working with GeoComm on a 3D 911 response system. That project will be talked about in more detail in a post of it’s own, so stay tuned!
There are plenty of projects in the pipeline, and we are always open to new ideas. If you are a faculty member looking to work with us to create a better tool for you students, a student with an awesome idea, or you want to get involved yourself building some awesome stuff stop by ISELF 204 and check us out. We love giving tours and showing off the neat things we’ve created.