Using Hands Naturally for Design & Creative Expression

Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, 3:00 p.m.

Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Seminar Series
Warnock Engineering Bldg. (WEB) 2230
Reception to follow

Karthik Ramani, Ph.D.

Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Professor Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University
All are invited and welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.


Abstract: The recent success of tablets and depth cameras is a direct example of the importance of using natural interactions to create simple and more interesting virtual experiences. On the other hand, current interactive sketching media, shape modeling paradigms and tools remain non-intuitive and require significant training. They are often built on WIMP-based (windows-icons-menus-pointers) metaphors and interactions, thus binding the user to stringent procedural steps making interactions cumbersome.

The first part of this talk presents skWiki and Juxtapoze. SkWiki is a web application framework for collaborative creativity in multi-media projects, including hand-drawn sketches. Built on the browser, skWiki uses the concept of paths as trajectories of persistent state over time. This model has intrinsic support for collaborative editing, including cloning, branching, and merging paths edited by multiple contributors. Juxtapoze is a clipart composition workflow that supports creative expression and serendipitous discoveries in the shape domain. Allowing multiple exploration channels, such as doodles, shape filtering, and relaxed search facilitates serendipitous discovery of shapes.

The second part of the talk presents zPots and ChiRobot. Using a depth camera we present new interaction paradigms for creation, interaction and manipulation of 2.5D shapes through natural integration of human gestures with shape modeling schemes. Finally, the talk concludes by developing a new “cyber-physical” toy platform (ChiRobot) that combines construction and craft to enable children to build toys from their imagination and animate it in a short time. User studies support all the research presented.

Bio: Karthik Ramani is a Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. He earned his B.Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, in 1985, an MS from Ohio State University, in 1987, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1991, all in Mechanical Engineering. Among his many awards he received the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Initiation and Career Award, the Ralph Teetor Educational Award from the SAE, and the Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award from SME. In 2006, he won the innovation of the year award from the State of Indiana. He serves on the editorial board of Elsevier Journal of Computer-Aided Design and ASME Journal of Mechanical Design. In 2008, he was a visiting Professor at Stanford University (computer sciences) as well as a research fellow at PARC (formerly Xerox PARC). He also serves on the Engineering Advisory sub-committee for the NSF IIP (Industrial Innovation and Partnerships). In 2006 and 2007, he won the Most Cited Journal Paper award from Computer-Aided Design and the Research Excellence award in the College of Engineering at Purdue University.

Ramani was the co-founder of the world’s first commercial shape-based search engine (VizSeek/Imaginestics). In 2009, he won the Outstanding Commercialization award from Purdue University. He has won several best paper awards from ASME and in 2014 the Outstanding Research Excellence Award from ASME Computers and Information Sciences in Engineering Division. NSF recently invited him for a distinguished lecture in cyber-learning. His recent papers have been published in ACM UIST, IEEE CVPR, ACM SIGCHI, ACM IDC, ASME JMD and ACM SPM.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah is committed to providing students with broad-based, rigorous and progressive education. By combining state-of-the-art facilities with renowned faculty, the department provides an education that gives students the necessary skills to become the next generation of innovators.