News Release

With iPad Project, Electrical Engineering Graduate Students Shine

San Diego, CA, July 12, 2010 — For their hands-on design course last quarter, graduate students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at UC San Diego developed applications for the just-released Apple iPad.

In the "OptiActor for iPad" project, electrical engineering graduate student John Kooker created a seamlessly integrated, intuitive, remote interface for Calit2's HIPerSpace-OptiPortal system, based on the newly released iPad device (released to the public on April 3, 2010).

John Kooker (third from left) ended the presentation of the winning project with a demonstration of his iPad-based interface on the new HIPerSpace installation in Jacobs Hall (fka EBU1). More photos here.
Kooker’s project won for the quarter. He was mentored by Falko Kuester, an associate professor in both the Structural Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering departments at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Kuester is also the director of Calit2's Center of Graphics, Visualization and Virtual Reality (GRAVITY) laboratory. Kai-Uwe Dörr, Calit2 project scientist also served as a mentor. In addition, Kooker worked closely with Kevin Ponto of the GRAVITY lab. Calit2's HIPerSpace-OptiPortal system is a scalable, multi-display, high performance visualization system that uses cluster technology to support interactive visualization.

"My favorite part of doing the project is getting hands-on experience with this incredible new visualization technology," enthused Kooker, "Being able to contribute to that significantly in one quarter was really fun. Also, being able to play with brand new technology, the iPad, was just a thrill."

Kooker's interface ("OptiActor") supports the majority of existing HIPerSpace/OptiPortal applications (primarily visualization apps, including image and video viewers, maps and weather and scientific data visualizations). It has true multitouch and accelerometer-based interaction.

"You have multitouch in your hands, you can paint with your fingers, throw images around, and pinch to zoom, while watching the wall. It's really fun," explained Kooker. It also supports mouse and keyboard emulation, which enables use with older applications that do not support multitouch.

ECE 291 Means Original Research

The graduate course, ECE 291, had 14 masters of engineering graduate students who worked on eight projects. ECE 291 provides experience working on real engineering projects which originate from the actual needs of ongoing campus research, as well as industry partners. Students work with mentors from the sponsoring organization, with one or two students on each project.

"The design projects provide a unique opportunity to explore new ideas and concepts while at the same time engaging and challenging our talented students with a combination of hands-on design, research and development tasks," said Falko Kuester, discussing the projects he mentored this quarter. This is exactly the aim of the course. Kuester is an associate professor in both the Structural Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering departments at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Calit2 UCSD is a longtime supporter of both ECE 291 and the corresponding undergraduate group engineering design course (ECE 191). Seven of this quarter's eight ECE 291 projects were sponsored by Calit2 .

Kuester deemed Kooker’s win "excellent news" and added that "As an interesting side note, John got to present a preliminary prototype of the project to Paul Jacobs [CEO of QUALCOMM] during his recent visit to Calit2, who turns out, is his future boss now that John has graduated and accepted a position at QUALCOMM."

Kuester and Dörr were first-time design course mentors with two graduate projects and another two projects in the undergraduate course, ECE 191. "While some of the design objectives were similar in nature, the diversity of results was great to see, nicely demonstrating that there are many different ways to look at a challenge and to engineer a solution to it," noted Kuester. "All four teams worked on different aspects of our OptIActor project, which explores innovative new ways to interact with collaborative digital workspaces and ultra-scale visualization environments."

The other graduate project they mentored was the "OptiActor-Edutainment," in which Zhao Lou and Yue Qu developed an interface for the HIPerSpace-OptiPortal system based on the Wii remote control device. The "Wiimote" can be used as an air mouse to control multiple existing wall applications.



Media Contacts

Maureen C. Curran
Calit2 Communications

Daniel Kane
Jacobs School of Engineering