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29 April 2009

Students show off computing projects

Touchtyping 'Guitar Hero' style, a detector for 'card counters' in casinos, a piano which corrects the player’s mistakes, and devices to add emotion to your blog responses and build arguments on the internet are all among the innovative projects on show from final-year computing students at the University of Dundee this week.

Honours students in the School of Computing are staging an exhibition of their degree projects. The range of software and devices on show crosses a wide range of applications, from tools to help children with complex disabilities to communicate more effectively to a system developed in a casino to detect when Blackjack players are 'card counting'.

'The range and quality of projects produced by the students this year is truly remarkable,' said Professor Peter Gregor, Head of the School of Computing.

'We have got some truly original concepts and some which develop every day technology and look at doing new things with it. Bringing it all together has produced a really exciting exhibition, and not just for those with an interest in computing or technology.'

The exhibition is open at the Queen Mother Building at the University from Thursday April 30th to Wednesday May 6th. Anyone can go in and visit the exhibition, which is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

In all, 26 projects will be on display - details of some of the student projects are below. All students are available for interview.

STUDENT PROJECTS

  • Sam Tutton - Research into Multi-Touch Surface Technology and Ecommerce Programming
    With constant advances in computer technology and graphical user interfaces, multi-touch compatibility has been the latest technological challenge to emerge in recent years. Although multi touch is a relatively old concept, (apart from cutting edge companies such as Apple and Microsoft), very few companies have yet to incorporate this technique into their products.

    Due to its new found popularity it was decided that research would be conducted within the multi-touch field and an attempt to unearth different products, procedures, languages, libraries and methods of building and programming multi-touch surface technology would be investigated.

    By understanding the architecture of multi-touch devices, software solutions can be created to track and manage fingers on a screen, allowing software programming solutions. To demonstrate this, an e-commerce shopping cart has been designed with all the information you would expect from an online shop, while allowing multiple users to interact and manipulate objects on the screen with their hands.

  • Kyle Montague (from Dundee) - TouchType Hero
    Many people work with computers on a daily basis, yet the majority of them are unable to touch type - often because learning involves spending countless hours completing boring typing exercises. The aim of this project was to produce a fun application to teach touch typing. TouchTypeHero combines the training techniques common in all typing tutors, with the game play and fun factor of games such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. Following the recent trend in technology towards user generated content, TouchTypeHero allows the user to add their own personal tracks from an audio CD and play along with them in time to the music they have selected.
  • Krists Zutis (Dundee) - 'Who's Counting?' is an automated system that monitors and tracks a game of Blackjack with the aim of detecting players who are card counting. The system uses two video cameras, and sophisticated computer vision algorithms, to recognise both cards and bets. By detecting each card as it is dealt, and using stereo vision to measure the size of the player's bet, the system attempts to find correlation between player bets and the card count. If a high correlation is found, the system has good reason to believe that card counting is taking place. The system has been developed and tested with staff at the Dundee Casino, and promises to be a good solution to a pressing problem for modern-day casinos in the UK
  • Marc Liddell (Gateshead) - iPianola is a standard musical keyboard that is designed to be playable by persons with physical or cognitive disabilities. When someone plays a piece of music on the iPianola, a computer system tracks the music, and fills in missing notes, and auto-corrects or ignores incorrectly played notes. In fact, iPianola allows a person with little or no keyboard ability to correctly play a piece of music! The system could prove helpful for persons with motor difficulties in his/her hands (such as those caused by cerebral palsy or arthritis), allowing them to enjoy playing a regular keyboard. Music is a universal language, and iPianola opens music to a larger population who would normally be excluded from creating this language.
  • Rory Gianni (Dundee) - Emotional feedback from blog readers
    Readers of blogs can respond with comments, but cannot at present give a vivid and easily seen emotional response to the text as they read it. Also the cumulative responses of many readers are difficult to sum up at a glance. This innovative solution provides a colour coding for the responses of blog readers. Readers can highlight passages from the text with colours to represent the emotion or opinion they evoke. For instance if blue represents ?Agree? and red represents ?Disagree?, then a bit of the text which is highlighted in dark red shows that many readers have registered their disagreement - if the colour is lighter it means fewer views are represented. Also the colours can combine so that text which is purple (red combined with blue) means that some agreed and some disagreed with it.
  • Colin Gourlay (Dundee) - Argument Blogging
    Colin has developed software to support web users who want to argue online. If you disagree with something, you can easily create a link between that source and your response, even on different websites. This creates a web of arguments superimposed over the regular web which enables users to browse the web by following the path of arguments rather than the path of explicit hyperlinks.
  • Mark Snaith (Dundee) - Online Argument Visualisation
    Sometimes it is difficult to make yourself understood and it can be hard for others to understand your reasoning. Sometimes a picture can help others to understand your thread of reasoning. For his project Mark has developed a range of online tools to support the analysis, storage, retrieval and visualisation of arguments on the web. These tools enable a website owner to easily display a graphic on their webpage that shows their reasoning making it easier for writers to get their point across and for readers to comprehend the arguments.
  • Pamela Phelan (Dundee) - Musical software for complex disabilities
    A piece of musical software was developed together with children with complex disabilities from a special school. The project aimed to provide the children with access to a variety of musical concepts in a simple and interactive way. The children identified various aspects of music and technology they wanted to be available in the software. The interface for the resulting system is a tree drawn by the children. Evaluation sessions allowed the children to provide invaluable feedback and they wanted to keep the software for their own use.
  • Ha Trinh (Vietnam) - Joystick Interface for Phonic Based Communication and Mobility
    The objective of this project was to explore the feasibility of developing a novel Assistive and Alternative Communication (AAC) device to support children with complex communication needs (CCN) and severe physical disabilities in literacy learning. The device enabled the users to directly access 42 phonics used for literacy teaching and blend them together to produce spoken words using a phonic-to-speech synthesiser.

The final product of the project consisted of a game controller which was developed to operate like a joystick with a range of force feedback features designed to assist individuals with CCN and poor hand function in selecting phonics located at discrete positions on the device workspace. The device was accompanied by a software application which enables researchers and therapists to adjust various force feedback properties, thereby allowing them to customise the device and evaluate the optimal device settings for different users with varying degrees of disabilities.


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