Interactive signage has a number of advantages. They can provide visitors to a public space a great deal of information very conveniently. They also bring a lot of “wow factor” to a hallway. Unfortunately, they also tend to be very expensive and require significant infrastructure to support.
Geoff Powell, a senior Computer Science student from Upland, California, came up with an innovative solution. Working with Dr. Cindy Howard as part of an independent study, Geoff designed and developed an interactive display board using the Microsoft XBox Kinect, C#, and Microsoft’s XNA framework. The Kinect, which is mounted above the TV, detects when a person is standing in front of the display and then provides the visitor a number of options. The visitor can browse top stories from the department website, moving from story to story by swinging her arm left or right. Alternatively, the visitor can choose from a couple of games, including one in which she can play the piano, and another in which she can swat at shapes that fall from the ground to gain points. There is even an interactive campus map. When the user points to a location on the map with her left or right hand, the display indicates the name of the location. Geoff designed the code to be highly modular, which means adding more features in the future will be relatively straightforward.
In terms of cost, this setup required a modestly equipped PC that could run a Microsoft .net application, an XBox 360 Kinect, and a TV with VGA or HDMI inputs. The setup also requires a WiFi signal so that the website’s top stories can be scraped from the site in real time rather than require manual updating. It is a low-cost, highly effective solution that has made our hallway a lot more interesting. It has given us another way to express the “wow factor” our Computer Science program strives to achieve.
We thank Geoff for bringing his considerable talents to Lewis’ Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. He will be graduating on May 18 and will then continue at Lewis in our Master of Science in Information Security program. He’ll be adding graduate-level computer security expertise to his impressive software development skills, an unbeatable combination in this era of ever-evolving security threats. Anticipating and thwarting cyber security attacks requires a thorough understanding of how such vulnerabilities emerge through the computer code people write or mis-write. Our Computer Science majors have that understanding, and Geoff is a stellar example.