Project Ideas

The AEL has a number of ongoing projects that we are looking for students to contribute too, as well as ongoing research themes that we welcome new projects in.  On this page you will find a collection of ideas, both technical and design oriented, that give an idea of the range of work going on in the lab.  If any of these ideas seems interesting to you, please let us know.
Beginning in Spring 2015, the lab is running a VIP team focused on AR software and AR experiences. If you are an undergrad interested in AR research, please.  Please see this page for some more information, or contact one of the listed VIP instructors for more information.
If you are a graduate student interested in any of these topics, especially for your MS project or an independent research class, please contact Blair MacIntyre.

Argon

The Argon AR-enabled web browser is currently one of the core projects in the lab, and the focus of the VIP team.  We are looking for students to contributed to development of the browser technology, as well as those interested in developing experiences, systems or concepts with it.
Project ideas include:
  • Work on the UI of the Argon Browser itself, on phones and tablets.  The current UI of the browsers (Argon and Argon2 Isotope;  soon Argon3) can be described as “functional”, at best. The bulk of the UI is implemented in HTML5/Javascript (it is not iOS native), and we would be interested in having students with web design experience work on improving it, or experiment with different approaches.  Issues to consider include presenting different metaphors on different form-factor devices, and developing new ways for users to manage multiple simultaneous web channels.   A goal of Argon3 is to run on many platforms (desktop and mobile, other AR browser technology), not just our iOS application, which raises other UI questions.  For example, a desktop version of Argon could use a completely different UI from a mobile version.
  • We are beginning to work on using head-worn displays (connected to the desktop and/or mobile) with Argon.  A core challenge is creating a user-interface for AR that is suitable for an HMD.  This is especially when when multiple AR web apps are running simultaneously.
  • A core research goal of Argon is to allow multiple independently authored AR applications to run in parallel.  Multi-app coordination and communication will be required to make this a work well.  We would like to explore this, and develop a compelling set of applications to demonstrate this.  Issues include things like support for debugging, user-drivent information sharing (e.g., the equivalent to cut and paste on the desktop), authoring tool support.
  • Integration of new technology into the browser.   For example, we would like to leverage the newest Vuforia features, as well as integrating other vision technology.  Similarly, how could we leverage discovery and tagging services like Catchoom’s image recognition, or iBeacons?  What would an Argon “discovery” service look like to the user, and how would we connect with developers?
  • To support HMD’s, we need ones to experiment with.  One possibility is building our own, using something like the Oculus + video cameras + various tracking technologies.  Simply constructing appropriate HMDs and demonstrating how to use them with web technology is a challenging technical problem:  calibration of cameras, integration of various tracking technologies, managing web-based stereo rendering contexts, etc.
  • Porting to new platforms:  Android, Windows Phone, MacOSX, Windows8, Linux, etc.

Applications Research:  Games, Media, Tools and Art

Over the years we have explored the potential AR for various kinds of application domains, from games and Art to practical applications.  We are very interested in understanding when AR is really useful, rather than simply a flashy gimmick.  More importantly, we believe AR (as a technology) needs to be better integrated into the other digital and non-digital technologies appropriate for the target application domain:  AR may be just one mode of a digital tool or experience, and needs to be used at the appropriate time.  Thus, experiences should be explored to take real world and practical needs into account, and use AR when it is most suitable.  Examples of projects we are interested in include:

  • AR Games.  We have a long history of creating games using AR, and would be interested in pursuing new game ideas.  Much of our game work currently takes place in the context of the “Game Studio” being run by Blair MacIntyre and Ian Bogost.
  • Minecraft as a Research Platform.  The modding systems for Minecraft allow it to be modified in almost limitless ways.  Our lab has worked on large scale virtual worlds (for collaboration and gaming) for many years, modifying platforms such as SecondLife (see AR SecondLife) and OpenWonderland to support augmented and mixed reality.  We would like to explore using Minecraft for this purpose, to explore new kinds of large-scale distributed play experiences.
  • Art and Media applications.  We continue to be interested in exploring the creative side of AR, and would welcome working with students who want to use AR as a means of creative expression. Ideas might include AR-enabled graffiti or sculpture, location-based storytelling, or other kinds of experiences.
  • Cultural Heritage.  An ongoing theme in our work over the years has been to use AR to enhance visits to cultural heritage sites.  We would welcome students who want to join our existing projects, or having projects of their own. One of our major ongoing projects features Auburn Ave., a street in downtown Atlanta with a rich historical and cultural tradition.

HCI Research

We are interested in how AR works, how humans interact with and perceive content that is mixed with the world, and how we can better interact with AR tools and technologies.  Areas we are interested in include:
  • Visualization and AR.  3D visualization has not lived up to peoples expectation, but perhaps when 3D content is tied to physical 3D spaces it might work better.
  • Education.  Can AR be used in education, especially when the content is spatial or tied to physical places.  From teaching STEM topics to children, to college-level visualization of real-world processes, AR seems like it would be useful for reinforcing or makes abstract concepts more real.
  • Interaction.  Especially in the context of our Argon browser, we are very interested in understanding how to better interact with virtual content in a digital world.
  • Authoring.  How can we author, modify and refine virtual content in a physical world?

Other Ideas

Beyond these topics listed here, if you are interested in working with AR, please let us know.  We’re always looking for new ideas to explore.

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