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Graduate students research human-computer interaction

By Jessica Baumhover
Daily Correspondent

Several ISU graduate students are using innovative research to create unique human-computer interaction products.

The futuristic projects include a wearable computer, technology to make three-dimensional models from two-dimensional images and a product to reduce stress levels among workers using virtual reality.

Mandella Connors, graduate student in human computer interaction, has created a product that would allow stressed-out employees to cope using virtual reality. She said businesses can put up virtual reality panels so employees can visit a digitized Costa Rica or Hawaii.

"You're at work and get to go on a virtual vacation for an hour," Conners said.

Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, funds Connors' education through the Gates Millennium Scholars program. She said she saw how stressed out his employees seemed during her interview for her funding.

"I think he might be my first customer," Connors said.

Brian Mila, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, has created a wearable computer that can be used by the average person.

The wearable computer is smaller than a laptop, but larger than a Personal Digital Assistant, Mila said. It is the size of two paperbacks stacked together and is carried in a backpack, he said.

"It is pretty usable in general," Mila said. "It can do whatever a laptop can do."

A normal keyboard and mouse would not be portable, so Mila said he used a regular PDA using a wireless network to link to the wearable computer.

A clip-on display is used like a tiny monitor as the user looks through the viewer with one eye, he said. Mila said the user moves his or her head to see what is on the desktop.

Ronald Sidharta, graduate student in computer science created Audience AR-Tainment -- AR stands for Augmented Reality.

In Sidharta's project, users wear a head-mounted display and a camera to watch patterned paper become a 3-D object through a Web cam. A computer draws virtual three-dimensional models on top of paper and other flat objects.

Games have been used to demonstrate the project, including "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."

"I wanted to expand well-known games to the audience," he said.

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