McKearn Summer 2015 Introduction

I’ve been asked to continue blogging about my research, but the programs have changed. Instead of continuing my previous work through Research Rookies, I am now proud to say that I am work on it through the McKearn Fellowship. For those that are new to following this, I am Tripp Weiner, a 2nd year undergraduate at NIU. I’m majoring in Computational Software (Computer Science) and Computational Mathematics. I am continuing my work in Virtual Realities as a means for education with Michael Papka, my mentor for the last year. This Summer, I’m focusing on the preparations for testing the system in the upcoming year and some small improvements upon the virtual world.

To summarize the work that is already complete, the world utilizes the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion to allow for a highly immersive and interactive platform. This world focuses on aiding people in the learning of mechanical physics. Through much pain, we have force vectors working inside the world that allow for a clear visualization of how forces are interacting on an object. There are currently a couple sample games that we have designed to allow for a basic introduction to the system, but this Summer, I’d like to expand the examples.

This Summer, I plan on adding some functions to the hands, such as grabbing objects with a script opposed to through the collision engine to allow for more precise actions, a menu option for manipulation of the world inside the world, and few others. I’d also like to add a few examples to specific realms of physics, such as pulleys, angular momentum, and others if time permits. In addition, I will be working on IRB paperwork so that I can test the system in the upcoming year.

This first week I’ve gotten more done than I planned. Albeit, it’s not quite how I envisioned it, but that seems to be a fluke of the Leap Motion opposed to anything I have control over. I have the hands locking onto objects to pick them up and manipulate them, but the system seems to be a bit finicky since the Leap won’t perfectly track the user’s hands. There seems to also be a couple flaws in my program and I’m working on kneading them out.

Hopefully, I can get everything I want done this Summer, but this is my only concern so far. This will be a constant concern until everything is done or the Summer is over. However I am pretty at ease as a whole. I’m not sure if an individual is making this experience enjoyable for me since I love this project and have dreamed about it for the last couple years.

Best of luck to the other McKearn Cohorts, past, present, and future!

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