27 June 2011

University of Queensland students have taken the concept of moving furniture around to a new technological level.

UQ Information and Communication Technology students have developed Virtual Interior Design technology, which allows users to project life-size 2-D outlines of furniture on the floor, before viewing them in 3D via use of an iPad.

Bachelor of Multimedia Design student, Stephanie Zylstra said via use of an iPod Touch, an iPad and an infrared glove, users were able to arrange virtual furniture in a physical space to preview how a room might look without the inconvenience of having to physically arrange each item.

“When users clench a fist, it activates a switch on the glove, causing infrared light to be transmitted, which is tracked by a Microsoft Kinect mounted next to the projector," Miss Zylstra said.

“Once the Kinect has detected infrared light, the ActionScript application springs into action, tracking the motion of the user using the infrared light as a basis, and allowing them to manipulate the position of the products which are projected onto the ground.

“Once the user is finished arranging products in the space, they are able to tap the 'view in 3D' link on the iPod, thus replacing the images of furniture by specially-generated Augmented Reality (AR) codes.

“The iPad is then employed, as users can point the camera of the iPad at the AR codes and, through a library called ARToolkit, see models of the relevant pieces of furniture.”

This project, along with many more high calibre physical computing exhibits created by UQ’s ICT students were on display at a recent Interactive Design Exhibit.

ICT Lecturer Dr Stephen Viller said that all of the interactive exhibits were well received by event attendees, many of whom were left astonished by the high calibre of projects on display.

“A number of the exhibits garnered a lot of interest from industry, including some who are keen to use the students’ designs within their own organisation," Dr Viller said.

“All of these interactive displays showcased the incredible skills and talent possessed by UQ’s ICT students, all of which have been achieved on restricted budgets in a single semester.”

Four UQ students developed a physical interface to the popular Smartphone game Angry Birds, which required game participants to use a giant, 1.5 metre slingshot to control the game, which was projected on the wall.

Bachelor of Engineering student, Harmeet Sanghera said that the team was able to construct the interactive exhibit using items readily available at electronics and hardware shops for a small budget.

“When the user pulls back on the slingshot, they activate the pressure switch which turns on the infrared (IR) Light Emitting Diode (LED), which is then tracked via a webcam with an IR Pass Filter,” Mr Sanghera said.

Meanwhile one student group, Team Globemasters, has been invited by world renowned software developer SAP to submit their Interactive Globe for inclusion in the Demo Jam event at SAP TechEd 2011 (Demo Jam sessions will be held at Las Vegas, Bangalore and Madrid later this year).

Master of Interaction Design student, David Harper said that the Interactive Globe project was essentially a giant trackball with a globe projected onto its surface.

“When users spin the globe, the projection updates to track the movement, and when it stops on a specific country, the system displays information about that country around the edges,” Mr Harper said.

To view a video of the Angry Birds design in action, visit http://vimeo.com/24803701

To view a video of the Virtual Interior Design project, visit http://vimeo.com/25059985

To view a video of the Interactive Globe project, visit http://vimeo.com/23983508>

Media: Dr Stephen Viller (viller@itee.uq.edu.au or 3365 1190) or Madelene Flanagan (m.flanagan@uq.edu.au or 3365 8525)