Research Positions

I took part in 3 research positions while at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Tactile Book Project, Siculi lab

I worked with Tom Yeh on the Tactile book project throughout my Freshman and Sophomore years. This project worked on methods for 3d printing tactile children’s books. The project has continued to evolve, and developed a system to quickly prototype 3d objects using an xml like language, which is easier for simple diagrams than existing drawing tools. During a seminar at the Colorado Center for the Blind, in which we were teaching middle school and high school age kids about the basics of electronics with the Makey Makey kit, me and two students decided to apply for a student innovation contest at the UIST 2014 symposium (User interface Software and Technology).

UIST 2014 Student innovation contest

During July of 2014, me and two students in the Siculi lab decided, under the recommendation of Tom Yeh, to apply for the UIST 2014 student innovation competition to be held in Honolulu Hawaii. We were excepted. This competition gave each student group a Kinoma Create which at the time was a product that had just launched. The goal of the project was to prototype a solution to a problem using it. The problem we applied to solve was creating a hardware device that could tell if a light was left on in a house or not. While this would certainly be useful for the blind, it is noteworthy to mention other useful applications as well. Some other applications we came up with were detecting whether lights were left on in your house after you left for a vacation, so you could have a friend turn them off. Also, with a small piece of technology consisting of only a few resisters, we were able to create a device that can be placed over top of an existing LED to detect if it was admitting light, and produce light to supplement  the light we were covering up. This is useful for LED's like the ones on a router. This device could communicate with our app, and detect if the LED was on, while ensuring the original functionality of the LED still worked. In this way, the app could tell a user remotely if a coffee maker or router was functioning in the desired way. Our design took second place in the category for most useful at the student innovation competition.

Phet (Non-Visual Access to an electric field simulation)

in the Fall of 2014, I started working with Clayton Luis and some students to make the PHET simulations more accessible. We got a grant from the Atlas Institute, which allowed us to develop a simulation of what the electromagnetic field around a charged particle looks like when it does things like move in a circle. We encoded the orientation of the magnetic field in the pitch of the sound, and encoded the distance from the center with volume.We also made use of Shepard tones to make the rotation continuous. A sheper tone is much like a virtual barber pole in that it creates an illusion of a falling tone. This falling tone will sound, to an untrained ear, like the tone is perpetually increasing or decreasing in pitch forever. In reality, 20 or so tones are chirped, new sound is slowly brought into the mix at the low range of the chirp, and the volume fades up slowly, then decreased once again towards the high range of the chirp. In this way, every time a high pitch is removed, a new low pitch is added, giving an illusion of perpetual falling with sound. This illusion no longer works on me now that I have listened to it so much.

We presented this work at ASSETS 2015 in Lisbon Portugal. This was a work in progress poster and demo session, where we interactively demo'd this application. From our demo and the feedback I received, I learned a lot that I can apply to future sonfiication work.


([ASSETS '15: Proceedings of the 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers & Accessibility•October 2015•Pages 437–438• Published:26 October 2015]