Undergraduate Research at the Vis Center

Week 1 – A new vision

Hello reader,

This first week has been awesome.  I did undergrad research for three semesters, but it’s been a very different experience in basically every aspect of it.  During the first day, Julie took us shopping and to our dorms, so most of the day was getting to know where we’ll be staying at.  Since we had the evening off, we went to see the enormous gym and register ourselves for the summer.

The second day we met a bunch of people (I don’t remember most their names, haha) and were introduced to the projects and which project each of us will be working on.  Both projects were very interesting, and I was sent to the one that I was hoping to get.  It’s based on 3D-projection using non-planar surfaces (we’re starting off with a ball) and multiple projectors to cover a wide area.  We will be in close contact to the fellows on the second floor who are working on a similar project (I’ll learn their names eventually…); we’re going to use the source code of a program they developed to adapt it to what we’ll be doing.  It’s been a very interesting week: as soon as we received the project, we started drawing on the whiteboard trying to figure the least number of projectors we would need to cover the entire sphere.  We were debating on 5 or 6 projectors, but we were given two projectors the next day and through a little trial-and-error figured that the projectors cover a wider area than what we first thought they’d cover.  Now, we think that with as few as 4 projectors should cover the whole thing.  We’ll be working with an engineer next week who will help us set up a workspace to play around with the projectors to figure out the optimal setup.  Meanwhile, we’ve been reading a book titled Practical Multi-Projector Display Design (A. Majumder, M. S. Brown), which has been too interesting.  It’s helped me decide that I will not have TV’s set up in my home (once I actually get my own home, haha), and where there would normally be a TV, there will be, instead, a super cool multi-projector display.  They’re not cheap, so I’m hoping I’ll be successful enough to actually afford that awesomeness.  Go, me!  The book has greatly widened my imagination, in a bunch of fields, not just in terms of displays; there’s a quote from Alan Kay that I liked a whole lot: “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

After our shifts in the Marsbury building, we’ve been very busy sightseeing.  We visited the university’s bookstore for souvenirs (and coffee mugs!), we visited the bike shop down Maxwell’s (but they were too expensive, so we’re checking bikes on Craiglist.com), and during the later parts of the evenings, we’ve been spending time in the gym.  Eric’s been busy playing basketball, while Karlo and I have mostly been rock-climbing. Plain. Awesome.

I think that’s about it for the first week.  It’s been very fun and exciting, meeting all the new people, being introduced to this creative environment, exploring new worlds of imagination, staying at a place where so much is so different from what I’m used to… it’s just plain amazing.