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Undergraduate Researchers

Thomas Hervey

Thomas Hervey, Information Systems

Aneep Bindra, Computer Science

Zachary Hullihen, Computer Science

“Lights, Camera, Motion, Action: The Dance Application of Microsoft’s Kinect and Intelligent Stage Lighting”

The Microsoft Kinect is one of the premier entertainment peripherals in today’s gaming scene. There are, however, many other uses for this sensor apart from the world of motion-controlled gaming. Our group will design a system which uses the Kinect’s motion-tracking capabilities and will integrate it with dancers through intelligent stage lights. The lynchpin of the system will be a DMX controller which will connect the PC (and by extension, the Kinect) with the lights. These lights can then be controlled to do certain actions in response to the motion input garnered by the Kinect. This fusion of art and technology will provide for a unique and surreal performance piece.

How did you find your mentor for year research, scholarship, or artistic project?

Our group began looking for a research mentor by investigating the researcher profiles on the Computer Science research webpage. Because UMBC is a research school, we knew that it wouldn’t be long before we found someone like Professor Marc Olano with a background that would fit our needs. Coincidentally, our other soon-to-be mentor Professor Carol Hess, had contacted Dr. Olano at the same time asking him if they could put together a project with dancers and an Xbox Kinect. In no time we had a project with a strong technical mentor and a dance professor mentor and a unique real-world application.

How did you know this was the project you wanted to do?

We knew that we wanted to integrate an Xbox Kinect with intelligent stage. This was the project for us because it combines development with art. After learning that we would have our own workspace we were ready to go.

Is this your first independent research/scholarship/artistic project? Do you get course credit for this work?

Yes, this is the first time that any of us have conducted independent research. No, we do not get academic credit for this work.

How much time do you put into the research?

In the summer we are working one or two nights a week for three or more hours as well as the occasional research independently throughout the week. Come the fall semester we will be working more nights each week.

How did you hear about the Undergraduate Research Award (URA) program?

Before we began the project we had heard that there was a funding program for the projects, but it wasn’t until Professor Hess encouraged us to apply that we knew the details of becoming URA Scholars.

What academic background did you have before you applied for the URA?

Cumulatively, our group has more than five years of programming experience with several languages including Java, Python, C, C++ and several others.

Was the URA application difficult to do? What was the most unexpected thing?

The application was simple but the number of documents that needed to be completed and in what order was a little confusing. The most unexpected thing was how nice and formal the award ceremony was. I am sure that being able to present in URCAD will be even more amazing.