Visiting MERL

Three weeks ago I visited Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory in Cambridge, MA. My hosts were Bret Hersham and his colleagues Garrett Weinberg and Bent Schmidt-Nielsen. The proximate reason for my visit was that one of my PhD students, Zeljko Medenica, worked under Bret as a summer intern.

As part of my visit I saw the MERL driving simulator, which is an excellent adaptation of a computer game for research purposes (read more about it in Garrett and Bret’s Automotive UI 2009 paper). I really like the driving courses that they can use (e.g. winding mountain roads and narrow village streets) and I’m impressed with the performance of the simulator’s chair which shakes and tilts.

After the simulator tour I gave a talk on our latest navigation study, which compared driving performance and visual attention when using two personal navigation aids: one that displays a map and provides spoken instructions and another that provides spoken instructions only. The talk was based on our Automotive UI 2009 paper.

Finally, I had a chance to talk to Fatih Porikli, who showed me some great videos of his work on recognizing pedestrians. We also discussed possible collaboration on learning grammars for using voice commands to tag photos. More about this in another post.