Human Computer Integration Lab

June 2022 - Present

What is it?

The Human Computer Integration Lab is an engineering lab run by Assistant Professor Pedro Lopes based in the University of Chicago's Department of Computer Science. This lab focuses on integrating technology with the human body. Typically, the lab works on creating new wearable and haptic devices, often with virtual/augmented reality applications. The lab consists almost entirely of PHD students with only a few select undergraduates.

What do I do?

As a computer science major with years of programming experience, I contribute in this lab by helping with all of the software. I program high-level software, including VR scenes to help evaluate and demo devices, and low-level software, including the logic of an Arduino microcontroller.

As for my position at the lab, I was originally hired as a 10 week summer intern. Now, I am honored to have been invited by Professor Lopes to continue working at the lab indefinitely.

Projects

Note: The project I researched has not been published yet, so I cannot mention specifics at this time. We are submitting this project to CHI 2023, and I am a listed contributor.


One contribution I made to this project is that I wrote and refactored all of the code for the hardware, including creating an OSC + BLE communication protocol so the hardware can easily communicate with Unity games. After switching multiple components in a new revision of the hardware, much of the original code became obsolete, so I stepped in and updated everything. These updates included many complete reworks of preexisting functionality to improve on performance, ease of use, and readability.

Another contribution I made is a physics prediction algorithm that is vital for timing the device's haptic effects. I optimized and repurposed this algorithm to work with two different hardware input methods so the device can function in both VR and non-VR applications. To prove this algorithm's effectiveness, I ran a user study with 12 participants and analyzed their data.

The largest contribution I made is a VR demo game that dynamically showcases features of the hardware. I created this game using the Unity game engine. This VR game is now the HCI Lab's primary means of demoing this project, and it has already been used in another 12 participant user study to determine the impact and enjoyability of the haptic effects. I even had the chance to present this VR scene at Argonne National Lab! A video showcasing a first-person playthrough of the game is displayed below.

Jumpmod Escape Room Let's Play.mkv