CS Student Projects Making News
Purdue Computer Science students from the "HCI: Issues and Implementations" course have been making the news lately in Purdue Today and the September 2011 issue of the College of Science's newsletter Science@Purdue. The article "Purdue students create smartphone applications for a new video wall in Lawson Computer Science Building" by science writer Elizabeth K. Gardner is reprinted below.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Eight students in a human-computer interaction course at Purdue University created interactive smartphone applications for a new 16-by-9-foot tiled video wall they programmed and installed in the Lawson Computer Science Building.
There was a demonstration during a dedication of the video wall on. Friday (Sept. 16) in the building's commons.
The students developed applications for the Android smartphone that allow users to control and interact with the display, which is made up of 16 46-inch LCD monitors. The applications will allow for voting on the video content displayed, streaming of audio to the smartphones and for the ability to stream a video or presentation from a phone to the wall.
The video wall also will be used for more traditional functions like displaying news and information, broadcasting video from workshops and colloquium speakers, and for computer graphics research demonstrations. Internet-based audio streams for the wall's content will be available so that users can listen through their laptop or smartphone.
Harris Corp. donated the video wall, which has an estimated value of $220,000, said Tim Korb, the assistant head of the Department of Computer Science who taught the "HCI: Issues and Implementations" class last spring.
In addition to creating interactive applications, students in the class configured software donated by Harris Corp. The software, called InfoCaster, merges video streams from multiple sources, divides them among the processors behind each monitor and maintains synchronization across the full screen created by the wall.
Maaz Humayun, who took the class, said it was a unique opportunity to go through the full design, testing and review process for a smart phone application.
"In my interviews, this is the main thing employers have wanted to talk about," said Humayun, who is a senior studying computer science. "It allowed us to experience what we will see in a real work environment. I learned so much more than what I would have learned in a traditional Android application development class."
Tyler Wear, who also was a student in the class, said the experience complemented earlier courses he took in the computer science program.
"Working on the video wall has been an incredible experience," said Wear, a senior studying computer science. "Just implementing some of the more basic functionality and learning the software, we have run into many unexpected problems, but this has given us great real-life experience. What I'm really excited about is coming back as an alumnus to see what new ideas future students come up with for the wall."
Korb said there is much more that can be done with the video wall as he continues the course this spring.
"There are many more interesting projects to come as students explore the capabilities of the video wall," he said. "It lends itself not only to computer science applications like designing smartphone applications or studying distributed systems, but also to the arts. It is up to the students' imaginations, and I'm sure we will see some very creative projects."
Jim Clamons, vice president of engineering operations for Harris Government Communications Systems, is a Purdue graduate and was a key member of the project team.
"The video wall offers engineering students a great opportunity to interact with some of today's most advanced content management technology," Clamons said. "By fostering continued interest in engineering through venues such as this, we can provide students with a view of just how expansive their opportunities are in this field."
Clamons and Wear will speak at the dedication, which also celebrates the fifth anniversary of the Lawson Computer Science Building. Jeff Roberts, the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science, and Sunil Prabhakar, interim head of the Department of Computer Science, also will speak. A reception beginning at 5 p.m. will precede the dedication.
In addition to Humayun and Wear, students enrolled in the course last spring included Rick Fogle, Jaye Franklin, Nick Hendrickx, Tyler Holzer, Sohail Mehra and Jon Moore.
Harris Corp. is an international communications and information technology company that serves government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries.