Homecoming 2014

Sensing the Future

Technology Evolution Showcased at GVU Center Homecoming

The biannual GVU Center Research Showcase invited visitors on Oct. 29 to an alternate reality populated with artificial intelligences, devices to communicate with animals, augmented landscapes bending space and time, computer-embedded fashion garments, futuristic screen experiences, auditory technologies, and much more.

The Technology Square Research Building hosted the event during Georgia Tech's homecoming week, showcasing more than 20 labs and groups with researchers demonstrating their varied creations. The research event reflects the nature of the GVU Center's community and its work - deeply collaborative, technologically diverse, socially conscious, and often times having a futuristic feel because of the conglomeration of devices and applications on display.

"The Research Showcase is our chance to welcome the world to the GVU Center, to show off the amazing creativity of our students and faculty,” said Keith Edwards, director of the GVU Center and professor of Interactive Computing.

The two-floor labyrinth of more than 100 eclectic projects represented the people-focused nature of computing technology and applications that faculty across Georgia Tech's six colleges are involved in through the GVU Center.

In the Comp.Social Lab, for example, a discussion on the evolution of online communities could quickly turn into a study of data visualizations down the hall in the Computational Enterprise Science Lab.

Among the research, shrewd visitors found new commercial applications, notably the Captioning on Glass app, available for the Google Glass headset now available to the public. The app lets hard of hearing users see near real-time captions of spoken text in the Glass display.

As visitors explored the showcase, they were given a chance to learn about approaches for solving broad social issues through technology applications. Some questions addressed were “How are third-world countries monitoring elections using social media?” “Is better public transit in Atlanta achievable within a decade?” “Are mobile healthcare technologies able to support behavior change for better fitness?” Specific projects in GVU-affiliated labs are tackling all of these issues and countless others. From popular topics such as STEM initiatives and new gaming techniques, to emerging areas of study such as “digital self harm,” GVU researchers are finding ways to adopt technology for improving our lives and those of others.

For more information on the work, visit the GVU Center's new comprehensive and searchable portfolio of research at http://gvu.gatech.edu/research/projects. Photos from the showcase are available at our Flickr gallery.

GVU Community Celebrates Research Advancements

Creating new computing-powered innovations and guiding users through a rapidly shifting technology culture is a large part of the collaborative work by faculty and student researchers at Georgia Tech.

The GVU Center sought top student researchers this fall to honor them as James D. Foley Scholars, the center's highest student achievement. After a competitive process, graduate researchers who are making significant contributions in their fields were awarded the James D. Foley Scholarship and recognized at the Foley Scholars Dinner, which took place on Oct. 29. Alumni, donors and faculty celebrated the achievements of the eight finalists, who were each recognized during the main program as GVU Center Director Keith Edwards shared insight into their research.

“The diversity of work from this year's Foley Scholars shows the larger ambition these students have in advancing their respective domains,” said Edwards.

In its seventh year, the Foley Scholarship includes a $5,000 award and gives students more visibility for their research and potential new collaborative opportunities. It is supported by donor gifts to the scholarship endowment.

James Foley, a professor of Interactive Computing and for whom the scholarship is named, talked candidly to the students at the dinner.

“As a graduate student, I couldn't have done what you all are doing now. The work is amazingly impressive,” he said. “Students often ask me what path to pursue when they graduate. My advice is follow your heart, follow the 'fire in your belly.' If you are doing work you love, you will be the best you can be. I was in China recently at the home of Confucius. He said something similar, 2500 years ago: ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.' All of you clearly have that fire and are doing what you love.”

The 2014-2015 Foley Scholars

  • Alex Zook, a Ph.D. Student in Human-Centered Computing, is developing artificially intelligent (AI) systems to augment game design and development. While games are being used for an ever-broadening array of purposes, developing games remains a daunting challenge. As part of his research, Zook is seeking to find ways to leverage the AI system to help developers with limited skills to create games.
  • Deana Brown, also a Ph.D. Candidate in Human-Centered Computing, is tackling are very different issue in computing. Brown has developed a collaborative web-based tool called Riverjam to allow migrant parents separated from their children to communicate with their children's educators and caregivers. The tool allows active parents separated from their children to provide them more support. Brown is deploying Riverjam in a number of studies to identify what is most beneficial for these user groups.
  • Mason Bretan, the final Foley Scholar, is a Ph.D. Candidate in Music Technology, and is developing robotic systems that interact with humans through musical scenarios. Using Sophisticated technology and artificial intelligence, Bretan enables machines to respond to human creativity in meaningful ways. His current project is for the development of a robotic prosthesis for an amputee drummer.

More information on the Foley Scholar recipients and finalists is available here. For images, visit the Flickr gallery of the Foley Dinner.

During homecoming week, the GVU Center also hosted a distinguished alumnus talk by Shwetak Patel, CS '03, PhD CS '08, now an associate professor in the Departments of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington. The former MacArthur "Genius" Fellow talked about his work in energy and his approach to the area of unobtrusive mobile health sensing. The talk is available online now at Brown Brown Replays.

The GVU Advisory Board was part of a small group which got a first look at the new Georgia Tech-curated technology exhibit on wearable computing. Thad Starner, wearable pioneer and professor of Interactive Computing, gave a tour of the exhibit, which makes its campus debut at the Wearable Computing Center Forum Nov. 11.

Pictured: Thad Starner, with Georgia Tech First Lady Val Peterson, shares personal insights into the history of wearable devices from the past 20 years in the exhibition "Meeting the Challenge: The Path Towards a Consumer Wearable Computer." The exhibit, open for a special Nov. 11 campus forum, will be shown to the wider public at the College of Computing 25th Anniversary Celebration in January.

Writer: Joshua Preston

Photography: Justen Clay and Joshua Preston