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Computers – and Robots – in Everyday Life

Nineteen high-school students from around California are finishing up their month-long residential program focused on “Computers in Everyday Life,” co-taught by (pictured at right) CSE Prof. Ryan Kastner and Qualcomm Institute principal development engineer Curt Schurgers (far left). The students make up the computing cluster of the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS), which offers residential programs for 150 students on each of its four UC campuses (Davis, Irvine, San Diego and Santa Cruz). In addition to the computing cluster, other groups at UC San Diego focused on topics such as optics and photonics, tissue engineering, marine sciences and so on. All the clusters were designed for 'talented and motivated students.' “In four short weeks these high school students were exposed to a variety of programming environments and concepts ranging from mobile phone apps, to robotics, sensors and actuators,” said CSE’s Kastner. “The students conceptualized and developed their final projects in less than four days, combining the ideas that they learned in the previous weeks with their own ingenuity and a lot of hard work. The end results were outstanding.”

On Aug. 1 the COSMOS teams in the computing cluster presented their final projects. The top award went to students Rachel Hong and Tiffany Chen (at right) for their project, “Mobile Application for Color Vision Deficiency and Betterment of Object Distinction (LUMOS).” The mobile app has three components: tests for determining red-green colorblindness; a filter for helping those with such color-blindness better see the distinctions between colors; and a ‘color identifier’ that recognizes colors in an image taken with a smartphone’s camera.

The award for "most innovative use of Cluster 1 technology" went to Colby Hester, Yannan Tuo and Elaine Chien (pictured below right), for "Navigational Automated Assistance for the Visually Impaired (NAAVI),” which is essentially a robotic dog for the blind. Noting that it costs between $20,000 and $40,000 to provide one person with a guide dog for one year, the students demonstrated that their Arduino-controlled Scribbler robot could be used to detect and alert a user to obstacles in his or her path for a fraction of the cost of a guide dog. Other projects included an app designed to teach the general public about number bases (a fundamental of computer science), an algorithm for autonomous image tracking that can detect features and colors, a robotic arm, an autonomous watering system for gardens, and a robot that can navigate and map tunnels.

Read the full news release. 
Learn more about the COSMOS program at UC San Diego. 
Visit the Cluster 1: Computers in Everyday Life website.