Wrapping up academic year 2016-17

Seminar folks at alpine lake

Seminar folks at alpine lake

It’s been a while since the last update, but let me recap some of the key happenings since the last post.

First, I spent a wonderful week with three students in Sierre, Switzerland, where a partner school of ours has its campus. HES-SO did an outstanding job arranging this 11th IT Seminar for students. As always, we were joined by colleagues from UEM Madrid and Copenhagen North, and the topics for the week ranged from time management in programming to Blendering to robotics to games programming. The hosts were very gracious and the arrangements very smooth, up to and including gorgeous weather.

 

Alpine surroundings were presented to us via an outing up in Crans-Montana, including a sampling of local wine (I must say that even if I am just a dilettante in wines, these were very good indeed). Once more it was confirmed that all students really enjoy a relaxed surrounding with people not from your immediate vicinity, solving problems on topics they have never seen before, and finding new and interesting areas of IT they hadn’t considered before. This is why the IT Seminar is going on towards its 12th incarnation in Helsinki next Spring.

HES-SO Sierre

HES-SO Sierre

Having returned from Sierre I had just a couple of weeks in Helsinki before venturing out to meet another excellent partner, University of Reutlingen, whence dr Uwe Kloos had graciously invited me. This time I had just two lectures on basic Blender work and one on personal innovation, so I had time to get to see the Informatics department really well. They are investing in augmented and virtual reality in conjunction with companies and the Max-Planck-Institute in Tübingen. I saw some utterly fascinating applications of laser-scanned spatial data, such as the entire IT department scanned and inserted into Unity complete with working doors and usable stuff in it.

 

I was also scanned myself – they have a full body 3D scanner that looks pretty much like a two-door refrigerator on steroids, but with blue lasers and HD cameras in it, able to scan a man in 10 seconds. It outputs an OBJ file, which contains both the STL data needed for printing and the materials for using the mesh in games for example. I have printed a 12 cm tall likeness of myself since returning and you can see it on my Instagram feed.

Oh my! Me in 3D!

The IT dept. in Unity

I expect to do much more with Reutlingen regarding user experience, which is one of the core areas of research they currently do, as well as in the 3D area in many different applications. I was also very impressed by the motion capture lab they are building with the capability of capturing four people moving concurrently. That project has many possible uses.

 

When I returned home it was almost time for the Innovation and project work course’s final demos. More than 20 teams presented the innovations they had created either for real live customers or out of their own interests. My implementation of the course left more freedom for the students to see if they could use Blender and Arduino and come up with something interesting. Five teams took up the challenge and produced a drug dispensed, a home cloud service, an automated chili plant grower, a Unity based computer design tool, and a mechanical lock opener that recognizes your cell phone. Our teams fared rather well in the popular vote with 4 out of the top 5 being from our implementation.

Oh my! Me in 3D!

Oh my! Me in 3D!

I plan to leave much freedom to the students in the future too – all the teams who looked into this area of IT said that having never tried anything with 3D and now just doing everything with it was a most enjoyable experience.

Messy but functioning

Messy but functioning

As for my own projects, I had little time to finish the new power source for the 8mm scanner, but now I can finally way the electronics work. I had trouble finding out just how much current the system needs and after buying a 12V 5A power source, and dispensing with the Arduino servo shield I had used up until now, I can now run the entire system with 4 regulators and four different voltages. All that remains is to print a nice box for the switches and leads, and then I can finally concentrate on just scanning the films I shoot.

So with this I will sign off now for the summer and return later (in the summer if inspiration hits) when I have something to report on the field of 3D and printing. Or anything else of interest, of course.

Have a great summer, everyone!

OH HEY – almost forgot! Check out my Instagram account at @isohoo3D for more stuff.

 

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