Category Archives: Staff

“Printed” robot MARC to be showcased at national engineering event

A 3D-printed robot will be one of the star attractions at an annual event aimed at inspiring the next generation of manufacturers and engineers.

MARC (Multi-Actuated Robotic Companion) will interact with visitors to the Get up to Speed with Engineering and Manufacturing event in Sheffield on Tuesday, 8th April.

Created by Dr John Murray from the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln, UK, MARC is one of two robots being used to help scientists understand how more realistic long-term relationships might be developed between humans and androids.

Based on human interactions and relationships, the research team will introduce ‘characteristics’ and ‘personalities’ to the robot. If the robot can be programmed to understand how human-to-human long-term relationships begin and develop, then it would be easier to plan the human-robot relationship.

The project team believe such robots could act as companions, working with the elderly, or with children with conditions such as autism, Asperger syndrome or attachment disorder. Existing robots lack identifiable human characteristics that prevent humans developing a bond with them.

Dr Murray will also be demonstrating 3D printed quadrocopters – the latest sensation in aerial remote control aircraft. Visitors can watch the on-board footage as they record the event and learn how to build and fly these machines.

Dr Murray said: “I’m delighted to be asked to exhibit at Get up to Speed for the second year running as it is a great opportunity for the University to showcase its research. I’m extremely keen to help young people see that subjects such as Computer Science and Engineering are not as daunting as they might think. Once they have been able to interact with MARC and fly the quadrocopters they will see that these topics are actually quite fun.”

All exhibits at Get up to Speed offer the chance to see the fundamental roles design, engineering and manufacturing have played in the success of different innovations.

The event is specifically designed for young people, their families and teachers to see some of the vehicles and technologies first hand, hear from and talk to those involved.

Other activities include a Formula 1 simulator; the World’s First F3 Racing Car made entirely from sustainable and renewable materials; and a visit from Paralympic cycling gold medallist Mark Colbourne MBE.

The free event runs from 10am to 5.30pm at The Blue Shed in Brightside Lane, Sheffield. To find out more go to http://www.getuptospeed.org.uk/home

MARC
MARC

First workshop for Performance and Games Network

The first of three workshops for a new research project looking at creating new videogames will take place this week.

Led by the Games Research Group at the University of Lincoln, the Performance and Games Network involves several researchers from Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, including Dr Patrick Dickinson, Dr Duncan Rowland, Dr Conor Linehan, Dr Ben Kirman, Dr John Shearer and Kathrin Gerling, working with Dr Kate Sicchio from the School of Performing Arts and Dr Grethe Mitchell from the School of Media.

The first session, which will bring together games developers, performance practitioners and academics, will be hosted by the University on 25th and 26th March.

Themed around movement and gesture based input devices, the core of the activity will be centred around a “hack” style event in which participants will work in small groups on design and/or prototyping exercises around a number of sub-themes and software.

Some of the sub-themes include mobility impaired performance; physical games in playgrounds; and audience and movement games.

Experts in the field will also be giving special talks. Guests include Ida Toft and Sabine Harrer from Copenhagen Game Collective at IT University, Copenhagen; Nick Burton from Rare Ltd; David Renton from Microsoft; and Matt Watkins from Mudlark.

The research group is also collaborating with Performance and New Media Professor Gabriella Giannachi, from the University of Exeter, and Arts Queensland, based in Brisbane.

The project is being sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of a wider initiative to develop the creative industries and put Britain back at the forefront of creative technology.

There will be two more inter-disciplinary workshops in Nottingham, UK, and Brisbane, Australia, where researchers working in games studies, human computer interaction and technical aspects of game development will continue to work with developers and performance researchers/practitioners to prototype new collaborative game ideas.

Performer on keyboard

New academics join team of computer scientists

Two specialists in human-computer interaction have joined the growing team at the University of Lincoln’s School of Computer Science.

Dr John Shearer and Kathrin Gerling will be continuing their research into interactive technologies that have a purpose beyond entertainment.

Ms Gerling is particularly interested in how motion-based interfaces can be used by people with special needs and her award-winning research on wheelchair-based game input has been presented at top international venues.

By modifying a Microsoft Kinect sensor, Ms Gerling demonstrated how gamers in a wheelchair could interact with motion games. The modification that she made to the Kinect meant that the system could take into account the position and movement of the wheelchair.

Ms Gerling, who will teach on the Games and Social Computing programmes, said: “Some wheelchair-bound patients at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities could benefit from the exercise and entertainment provided by gaming. Commercial technologies don’t really think about these user groups but these games could be a lot more inclusive and benefit society as a whole.

“I would like to create games that help people get better at using wheelchairs, particularly those who have suffered disability as a result of an accident. People struggle a lot more to accept their situation and get used to their assistive device if it happens later in life. It’s nice to be able to help to improve people’s quality of life.”

She is now looking to make contact with local groups who provide support for people with disabilities.

Dr Shearer’s work focusses on engaging the public in ‘creative play’ and understanding how people interact with computers.

He has recently revived his interest in live performance through his work on the humanaquarium – a moveable performance space designed to explore the relationship between artist and audience.

The project involved two musicians working with audience members to create an audio-visual performance using a touch sensitive transparent screen. The humanaquarium was designed to be in a public place, so people could discover and explore the installation, encouraging them to share in the experience of creative play.

Dr Shearer, who will teach graphics and games programming, said: “I approach human-computer interaction from a slightly different perspective – that of how people interact with the finished product, not how it is created. I take a more experience-based approach to designing collaborative interactive performance.

“You usually test software in a nice, safe environment such as a laboratory. That alters people’s reaction as it is a very clinical place. You need to put the technology out there in a public space so the understanding and reaction from people is a lot more realistic.”

Dr Shearer is now looking to create more installations in public spaces and is involved with the School of Computer Science’s Videogames Research Network, set up to explore new concepts in the design and creation of movement-based games.

Kathrin Gerling

 

humanaquarium