Masters Projects 2014

This year I’ll be supervising some masters projects. Below is a sample of the types of projects I’m interested in supervising. If any of them appeal to you please don’t hesitate to email me. Remember though that I’m open to suggestion. If you have something you’d like to do, especially if its related to games, music or bio-monitoring then I’ll be happy to talk to you about the possibilities.

Making Thrill Boring


For a number of years now, I, along with various colleagues here in the mixed reality lab and beyond, have been measuring “thrill”. Much of this is done in the handy controlled environment of roller coasters. During this time, we have been evolving a quantifiable “thrill factor” (first developed by Brendan Walker as The Walker Thrill Equation): a numerical measurement of how thrilled somebody is, measured from various forms of biodata. The aim of this project will be to try to validate that formula. It will involve capturing thrill data, applying the formula and comparing that with both self reported data and visual analysis.

This project would suit an outgoing enthusiastic student, who is comfortable with some programming, experimentation and data analysis, and is sufficiently motivated to get the data capture side moving early in the project. It is likely to involve riding roller coasters so complete cowards should probably give this one a pass.


Gathering the Magic Cards

magic_cards mtg cards blog

Magic the gathering is a stupidly popular collectable card game. People sink many of their hard won pounds into this hobby, and many small businesses depend on the market it creates for much of their revenue. However. to do this, cards need to be sorted for type and rarity. This is a task which typically has to be done by hand and is extremely time consuming and potentially error prone – especially when dealing with hundreds of thousands of cards. The aim of this project it to build a clever card sorting robot, probably out of lego, using a smartphone camera to differentiate between the different types and colours.

This project would suit a student who wants something more hands-on, and is a solid programmer. It has a significant practical purpose and a testable, quantifiable target.


My Daemon

e-puckGroup _e-puck_3

In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series of books, all people in his world have a “daemon” a constant animal companion that reflects their personality and feelings. It serves as an externalised representation of internalised emotional state.  Some people in our world have difficulty recognising their own (or other peoples’) emotional state from the cues we normally pick up on, so were one to have a daemon, as in those books, perhaps it would help with this difficulty. This project aims to develop a robotic “daemon” – a robot that reflects the physiological arousal of its “master”, based on the e-puck open robot.

This project would suit a competent programmer, who isn’t ham fisted enough to break these cute little robots.


See Ourselves as Other See Us

heres-what-happened-when-we-strapped-a-bunch-of-people-into-the-oculus-rift-virtual-reality-headset oculus-rift-ifixit

The oculus rift is fast becoming a darling of both gaming and academia, being as it is a low cost easy to develop for virtual reality platform. The aim of this project will be to make use of cameras, and develop a look-through system for the oculus rift which then allows for swapping viewpoints with another user.

This non-trivial challenge would suit a student comfortable with game engine programming (unity) and an understanding of optics. Those who easily suffer from motion sickness would probably be best to steer clear of this one.


Just Beat It

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Anybody who has made the mistake of learning to play the drums, is likely to develop a habit of tapping. This annoys all those people who haven’t learned to play the drums. It’s time to harness that bad habit. This project aims to develop a new instrument, which in real time crowd-sources audience tapping, and turns it into a channel of data for musical manipulation. It will be based on an arduino or rasperry pi, and a network of such devices should allow for a very interesting musical performance.

The project will require a student comfortable with electronics, is interested in music, and who is also a competent programmer. Those with no sense of rhythm should probably ignore this one.