Mon, Jun. 30th, 2008, 02:38 pm

Weekly Post (First 2 Weeks)

Wow! Well I had no idea until today that I was supposed to be doing a website at all, let alone a journal so I guess I have some catching up to do.

I got to Minneapolis on June 14th and started my work with Professor Victoria Interrante and her Graduate Student Brian Ries on June 16th. I read several research papers that Professor Interrante (from her on known as Vicki) sent me back in March.

Their research interested me in finding a way to explore these environments without the restrictions of space imposed by the natural environment, since that seemed to be a major drawback to what they were working towards.

My first week here, Vicki had to attend a conference in Portugal. Brian and I devised a small project to work on while she was gone so that I could accquaint myself to the Vicon and Highball systems that are in use here.

Using the Vicon system and the Stereo projectors, I used reflective markers to outline objects representing a waist and a headband. A wand with reflective markers would be held in either hand and, depending on the positions of the wands relative to the waist, headband and each other, different “movements” could be achieved within the virtual environment.

I worked on this project until Vicki returned. She gave me some suggestions for fine tuning it, and as it is rather awkward, I will be revising it.

She also helped me jumpstart my research so that I have a longer term goal for the rest of my time here, as well as getting my website set up. I have some more papers to read and I’ll write about those tomorrow.

Also, the other girl showed up.

Third Weekly Post

Wed, Jul. 2nd, 2008, 02:39 pm

Yesterday I read a paper by some guy named Viola that was both interesting and surprising to me. In it, they claimed that using the hands to navigate is "unnatural" and that they directed their research towards finding ways to nagivate without the hands. The methods they came up with were not quite as goofy as mine was, but I think they are being very silly not to incorporate tactile manipulation.

I spent the rest of the day trying to get my website online, and we gave a tour to a genius 10 year old who was shopping around for a college. He was a pretty funny kid but I wouldn't want to be his mother. He was SO energetic!

Today I am going to read some more papers and see if editing the webpage the way I want to will work out. I designed it in Microsoft Publisher, a choice I am starting to regret. I know I'll end up rebuilding it from the ground up, but I need to submit something SOON, even if it's just temporary.

So I am reading a paper, "Dance Your Work Away: Exploring Step UI" by Myers et al. It basically brings up something I knew I'd be seeing somewhere sooner or later - using a Dance Dance Revolution Matt for (whatever). The paper uses it for email and some other things, but I can see how someone would think about applying this hardwear to virtual exploration.

I've used a DDR mat. They are awkward, unnatural and annoying to use. You get worried about where your feet are and lose your balance very often. The movements you make in a "dance" context are nothing short of rediculous. It would be very uncomfortable to use one of these in a virtual environment, if not completely removing the user from the environment itself.

I think what I would like to do for research into what denotes "comfortable" and "uncomfortable" motions in an environment is to study how people move in different environments.

I'd like to see how people move in: 1.) environments they are accustomed to 2.) a new, unfamiliar environment 3.) a completely unknown environment - ie a pitch black room, or blindfolded. I'm most interested in seeing how people use their hands feet and legs, as well as how posture denotes the type of movements being made.

After I finish reading the last paper I have, I'm going to look for more papers on this.

Last update for today. I hate html and publisher and the internet. That is all.

Thu, Jul. 3rd, 2008, 02:40 pm

Today I read about the ARTHUR project and some other things. A observation I've made is that there is an embarassing amount of whimsey in these papers. "The Midas Effect"? What does that even have to do with eye-tracking? I mean I can kind of figure it out, but it's not a very descriptive name is it? The references I've experienced so far are: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, a fairy tale, King Arthur, The tale of King Midas. I guess if you examine these titles in context, there are common themes such as "trying to navigate an unknown or strange land", and "trying to control things but having your method backfire on you" but I think it's a stretch to say that any research team directly discussed the thematic elements in The Wizard of Oz when discussing their research projects.

Weekly Post 4

Mon, Jul. 7th, 2008, 12:59 pm

Today I worked on the document I mentioned last week. I examined the methods of user interaction with virtual environments, both real and tested, commercial distributed, and completely imaginary. Based on this work I've come to a different conclusion than I had at the start. I am going to talk to Vicki about this and see what she thinks.

I originally planned to go watch people move tomorrow and take sketches but based on my new assessment I might not. Then again I might try to implement both methods I have in mind. Like I said, I need to talk to Vicki.


I finally got to talk to her, but Vicki basically told me I wasn't capable of doing the projects I proposed and to go back and work on the awkward and flimsy project I did when she wasn't even here.

Thu, Jul. 10th, 2008, 10:50 am

Weekly Post 5

After my lacklustre meeting with Victoria on Monday I was enraged. She was basically telling me that I was incapable of doing things that I felt were easily within my abilities. So, because I am as stubborn as my father before me, I decided to do the more reasonable (in my mind) project. Let's review the timeline:

Monday - Was told I was incapable of completing my "ambitious" projects within the 5 weeks remaining to me.

Tuesday - Easily finished the rough code.

Wednesday - Messed around with Vicon and was generally unsatisfied with the hardware available.

Wednesday Night - Came up with the idea for harness.

Today -

Right now I'm waiting for Brian to show up so I can sweet talk him into taking me to my OTHER favorite store in the world, Home Depot. I sketched out roughly what I want to make. It's an elastic harness similar to suspenders that will have the reflective markers attached via most likely molded plastic. I have a pot at home and I will probably spend my free time for the next few days sculpting plastic with it. I want the markers to be removable, but to also be held firmly in place. I'm going to build antennae as well that will be attached somehow to the stereo goggles to complete the outfit.

Thu, Jul. 17th, 2008, 12:11 pm

Weekly Post 6

I found it amusing today when Victoria showed up to the lab and I was the only one here.

So for this week:

Monday - Finished putting together the harness.

Tuesday - Tried testing the harness. It was an off-day for everyone.

Wednesday - Finished the goggles. Did most of the paper. Couldn't test harness because of issues with the computer, but modified code. I think it might work now.

Thursday - Couldn't figure out the darn screen again. Finished up formatting my citations although I still have a few more to add. Read through the paper again. Now I'm working on drawing diagrams for it since by-hand is always easier than trying to use the computer. At 2pm I have to go find the guy that found my flashdrive.

Friday - Tomorrow, if anyone show up, I'm hoping to test the harness and goggles.

I'm a little annoyed with myself because the way I built the harness made most of my code untrue as far as the spinal comparisons. Now it feels flimsier and a little more ghetto. We'll see if it works or not.

Fri, Jul. 25th, 2008, 03:19 pm

Weekly Post 7

I would have posted yesterday but I couldn't remember my password and my IP got blocked.

After monumental struggle I've got forward/backward, left/right movement moving. During the demos today I decided on a fool proof method for rotation, so I'll test that after the kids leave.

Monday I'll see about scanning in my diagrams. Then I'm pretty much done. Sweet.

I highly doubt that Vicki will manage to get my testing approved so oh well.

August 31st

Weekly Post 8

Nothing to report this week. Cassandra, the other intern has been in duress most of the week since Vicki has not been answering her emails. I considered sending her my report to read, but...meh. Spent my time tweaking code and harness and report.

Weekly Report 9

Wed, Aug. 6th, 2008, 11:14 am

Final report is done and posted. For a much clearer explaination of what I worked on, check that out.

The last time I spoke with Vicki she explained the procedures for getting IRB approved to do human-subject testing. She said I would most likely be able to slide in under her already-approved umbrella for using the giant projector screen, but I asked her to help me with the paper work to get an official exemption, figuring since she had the experience of already doing it once, if I filled in most of it she could do the rest.

However, she never did any of that. She ignored me for a week, and then wanted me to just do it under the radar in my last 3 days here. I decided that that was too risky for me, and I'm not getting myself in any kind of trouble because she was too busy.

Going to film my video about Vicon for ACM tomorrow. I was too sore from going kickboxing with Brian and Cassandra to do it today. Note to self though: Need to look at my code, since last time I tested it, the rotation was backwards. Maybe I'll clean out my stuff on the F: drive later when I'm bored enough.

Tue, Sep. 2nd, 2008, 08:16 pm


One final update that might give this a bit of a happier ending.

My boss here at Binghamton U works with some kind of Disabled Users Group and when I told him about my research and what I did, he felt it had a good basis for differently-abled computing. So it turns out that my summer might actually produce something practical and useful!

I haven't had a chance to get down to the nitty gritty with him but once things calm down a little I'll talk to him and he said might be able to get me research funds to make an actual working product. Neat!