2011 opportunity for UNH CS students: multi-touch surface manipulation of geo-coded time series

When I think back to the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the images that come to mind are of wildlife affected on beaches, idle fishing vessels, and a massive response that involved thousands of people across multiple states.

How can such a massive response be managed? There is no single answer. However, one thing that can help is to make data about various aspects of the disaster, as well as the response effort, accessible to those conducting the response activities. This is the role of the Environmental Response Management Application (ERMA). ERMA is a web-based data visualization application. It visualizes geo-coded time series, without requiring users to know how to access specialized databases, or overlay data from these databases on virtual maps. ERMA was developed at UNH, under the guidance of the Coastal Response Research Center (CRRC).

Nancy Kinner is the co-director of the UNH Coastal Response Research Center. Building on Nancy’s experiences with ERMA, she and I are interested in exploring how a multi-touch table could be used to access and manipulate geo-coded time series.

Seeking UNH CS student

To further are effort, we are seeking a UNH CS student interested in developing a user interface on a multi-touch table. The interface would allow a human operator to access remote databases, manipulate the data (e.g. by sending it to Matlab for processing) and display the results on a virtual map or a graph. This work will be part of a team effort with two students working with Nancy on identifying data and manipulations of interest.

What should the user interface do?

The operator should be able to select data, e.g. from a website such as ERMA. Data types of interest include outputs from various sensors (temperature, pressure, accelerometers, etc.). Data manipulation will require some simple processing, such as setting beginning and end points for sensor readings. It will also require more complex processing of data, e.g. filtering.

What platform will be used?

The project will leverage Project54’s Microsoft Surface multi-touch table. Here is a video by UNH ECE graduate student Tim April introducing some of the interactions he has explored with the Surface.

What are the terms of this job?

We are interested in hiring an undergraduate or graduate UNH CS student for the 2011-2012 academic year, with the possibility of extending the appointment for the summer of 2012 and beyond, pending satisfactory performance and the availability of funding. The student will work up to 20 hours/week during the academic year and up to 40 hours a week during the summer break.

What are the required skills? And what new skills will I acquire?

Work on this ream-project will require object-oriented programming that is necessary to control the multi-touch table. You will explore the application of these skills to the design of surface user interfaces as well as experiments with human subjects – after all we will have to systematically test your creation! Finally, you will interact with students and faculty from at least two other disciplines (civil/environmental and electrical/computer engineering), which means you will gain valuable experience working on multi-disciplinary teams.

Interested? Have questions, ideas, suggestions?
Email me.