Computer Laboratory

Ian Davies

2009 Project Suggestions

This page will contain suggestions I have for Part II Projects. I would be willing to supervise one or two projects. Treat these suggestions as food for thought - they are by no means complete or definitive, but might provide a starting point for your own ideas. Get in touch if you would like to discuss any of these suggestions.

The projects I have in mind would be of a fairly practical nature, involving hardware we have available in the Rainbow Group. In particular, I am interested in applications of the Vicon 3D Motion Capture System, Nintendo Wii Controllers, Driving Simulator, Stereoscopic Video Projectors and High-Resolution Tabletop Interface. As all these gadgets are in the same room, there is clearly some scope for projects which combine systems.

These projects are hard, best suited to enthusiastic students with a 1st or 2.i.

Virtual Radar

Many commercial aircraft today are fitted with ADS-B transmitters, which broadcast identification and location information every few milliseconds. We have an ADS-B receiver which can receive these transmissions over a range of a few hundred miles. From this, it should be possible to build a "virtual" radar display on our tabletop interface, showing the location, altitude, speed and heading of most aircraft in the area. Decoding this data from the transmissions is non-trivial and would constitute a major part of any project.

There would be two strands to this project. One would be the tabletop user interface design, supporting multiple users interrogating the display simultaneously using stylus input. The other would be the data structures and algorithms you would design and implement to work with the incoming ADS-B data. You would need to implement some sort of spatial indexing (such as oct-trees) and consider optimisations for rapid update. Then it would be interesting to do trajectory prediction and detection of potential collisions. You would probably also need to implement an air-traffic emulator, as there aren't many real collisions over Cambridge!

Wifi-Control Car

I intend to purchase a large radio control car, on which we will mount a laptop, webcam and the necessary hardware to control the vehicle by Wi-Fi. When used in conjunction with the driving simulator, it should be possible to drive the car around an entire floor of the Computer Laboratory using streamed webcam video as visual feedback. Other interesting possibilities would be controlling a car-mounted Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera using the Vicon and adding audio channels. It may even be possible to provide some amount of control over GPRS/EDGE/3G to allow true remote control. The main interesting problem here is working out how to deal with inevitable latency. It would also be nice if the car were to keep some kind of track of where it's been, so that it can retrace its route if radio contact is lost.