University of Advancing Technology is an elite, private college that serves its student body by fostering knowledge creation and academic excellence in an environment that embraces the young technophiles of the world. With three centers of research and a suite of technology-centered undergraduate and graduate degrees, the University is a recognized leader in technology education.
Innovation is key at UAT—staff, faculty and students are always looking to create something. The University bought the Segway Loomo platform for Advancing Computer Science and Robotics and Embedded Systems students to program it. Enter Brandon Michelsen.
UAT authored the Loomo project to Brandon and fellow classmates, Ke’Ondrae Mell and Garren Koller. The end purpose for the Loomo is to be a transport vehicle for events, specifically Perimeter83 to deliver items to event attendees. In addition to pulling a cart, other utilization methods are in the works, including autonomous navigation (the Loomo will follow set paths) and follow mode (the Loomo follows a person around).
In addition to orchestrating the project, Brandon has also worked on the follow mode and autonomous navigation part of the project. Ke’Ondrae worked on the communication functionality between the Loomo and cart, while Garren headed up the mechanical portion of the project.
So far, the team developed an Android application that provides a camera feed for navigation. The robot is able to navigate itself by recognizing a person and following them.
To attach the cart to the Loomo, the team create a 3D-printed one-piece hitch with attachment points on both ends. If the Loomo happens to bump into anything, the hitch itself rotates so that the card doesn’t detach or break the hitch. Additionally, electrical communication elements are needed for brake lights.
This project can be categorized as social robotics, which are autonomous robots that communicate and interact with humans by learning social behaviors and following rules accompanying its role. Many elements of the Loomo were premade for social robotics. The Loomo has different programmable voices, sounds and facial expressions—all with the purpose of helping people feel more comfortable around it.
One of Brandon’s priorities is to make the Loomo more interactive with people. The Loomo has a directional microphone in place to pick up directional sounds relevant to itself. This means the Loomo has the potential to recognize voices and determine where people are. “So, you could be standing off in the corner of a room and you can call for it to come to you using your voice and it will pick that out, turn towards you, and then move towards you,” explains Brandon, “I think that would be kind of a neat aspect for the social robotics point of the project, and I think it would be something interesting to work on.”
Robotic technology is a part of Brandon’s present and future. After he leaves UAT, Brandon would like to educate the next generation of technology innovators or join the modern space race. “I’m really interested in education, particularly bringing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) education to rural areas, because I grew up on a farm and we didn’t really have much in the way of STEAM,” says Brandon. “Being able to come here and learn more about technology and engineering, and those fields—I find it really cool and I’d like to bring more opportunities to younger students in the rural areas.”
Interested in more student-based projects? Read our last issue of Behind the Bits!
Garren Koller, Robotics and Embedded Systems, Digital Maker and Fabrication
Ke’Ondrae Mell, Robotics and Embedded Systems, Digital Maker and Fabrication
UAT makes students’ dreams a reality.
While in high school, Garren Koller started an underwater robotics club with the dream of joining the RoboSub competition. That dream didn’t pay off in high school, so Garren brought it to college with him.
After coming to UAT, Garren spoke with faculty about attending RoboSub. UAT took Garren’s idea to the next level by creating an underwater robotics class to accomplish that goal. The class is taught by Joseph Horne, who is also their coach for the competition.
Brandon Michelsen, Ke’Ondrae Mell and John McIntosh share Garren’s interest in robotics. While Garren is the lead, the group works as a team, not relying on one designated person directing the others.
The photographed prototype is made up of a kit of fill pumps, PVC pipe, cables and wires. The prototype swims and can be programmed using microcontrollers. PLC was used to program the motors, which eventually were replaced by motor controllers.
The competition robot will be about three times larger than the prototype and fully autonomous. The team is using CAD modeling in full detail to concept designs.
A series of sensors and computer vision will be used, with the possibly of cameras being implemented to add visual capabilities for full autonomy.
The robot is meant to be completely hands off once it’s programmed to navigate itself through underwater courses.
Skills such as developing firmware for small embedded computers, programming, fabrication and electrical skills were necessary for developing the underwater robot.
While the future for this robot is a strong presence at RoboSub 2020, there are many opportunities for autonomous navigation in robotics.
With a great deal of research being conducted concerning part of a subfield of research called SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping), autonomous navigation is becoming a large part of robotics. Government is funding projects like the DARPA challenges because the navigation portion has huge applications to search and rescue, military, space exploration and any kind of robotics subfield that requires autonomous navigation.
Ke’Ondrae Mell, Robotics and Embedded Systems, Digital Maker and Fabrication
John McIntosh II, Robotics and Embedded Systems
Ricky Martinez knows how to hustle. As an Excel Leader and Student Mentor, Ricky is a familiar face to all on the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) campus. He’s also active in clubs, is double-majoring in Game Programming and Robotics and Embedded Systems and works in the UAT Cafe.
From a young age, Ricky was determined to be a game designer. Growing up gaming on a PlayStation, Ricky fondly remembers playing videogames with his dad, laughing a lot and discovering new worlds and experiencing adventures through videogames. These memories inspired him to create games to give players a similar experience and the same entertainment that Ricky had as a kid.
The UAT community quickly drew Ricky in. “When I first came here for my UAT Experience, I met people that I was able to actually have conversations with,” explains Ricky, “I remember calling my mom the day after and telling her that I found my people.”
Ricky also takes advantage of the resources UAT offers to students. Our campus system’s technology capabilities are built on enterprise server architecture—our datacenter contains more than 100 servers dedicated to production and student use!
You can often find Ricky in the Robotics Lab and Maker’s Lab. Our Maker’s Lab is equipped with the latest 3D printers, maker bots, CNC cutters and the software and knowledge guidance that students need to bring innovative ideas to life. Designed to foster creativity and challenge student innovators with a 24/7 environment, the Maker’s Lab is for those like Ricky, who seek to lead the new industrial revolution driven by the convergence of advancing technologies.
Ricky’s advice for new students is to learn time management and to reach out to someone if you’re struggling, so that they can give you the help you need.
Check out the UAT community.
Do you know how visual effects are made? Green screen filming is made possible through digital visual effect applications like Nuke, a node-based composting toolkit.
Nuke is already a super useful program, but Gabe Vigil saw room for improvement in certain channel keys, specifically to make blue and green screen editing easier.
In Nuke, RBG and alpha channels link once a key is pulled. This makes it difficult to manipulate each channel individually, which results in users settling in the middle and sacrificing quality on each end. BetterKeyer unlinks the RGB and alpha channels so that each can be edited individually.
Gabe built the keying gizmo by creating an entire node graph made up of different nodes that are plugged in a certain order. He then selected the entire node graph together as one group and then individually selected specific attribute controls for the gizmo.
Gabe ran into the issue of trying to decide what everyone would find most useful, he states, “I didn’t want to have too much and make it bogged down with a bunch of controls, half of which don’t really matter. And I didn’t want it to have too limited control and not be useful.”
After placing, organizing and labeling all of the controls, BetterKeyer was exported as a gizmo file, which users are able to download onto their devices.
You can find BetterKeyer on Nukepedia, a site where Nuke users upload and download gizmos for free.
Learn more about UAT’s Digital Video degree.
How do you make a Virtual Reality (VR) Movie? I’m sure you’ve tested out a VR headset, whether it be a game or a short film, and thought, “Wow, this is pretty cool! But how do they do it?" How do they make it so realistic, how do they place you inside the game or the film? What goes into making a VR movie?
“The biggest challenge of making a VR movie is that you never quite know where the audience is going to be focusing their attention," said Hue Henry, a virtual reality professor at the University of Advancing Technology. In traditional filmmaking, one can generally assume that the audience is going to be looking where you point the camera, but in virtual reality, the audience could be looking above, below or even in the opposite direction of the elements you want them to see. "That's why it was important that we develop a system that takes user gaze into account when deciding what direction to take the story,” Hue said.
As a film student myself, I understand this conundrum. It is easy to focus the audience’s attention to what you want when you're pointing the camera in a specific direction, but when it comes to VR, the viewer can look anywhere they want. Realistically, the viewer is looking all over once they start watching the video. When you put a VR headset on what do you do? You turn around and look around all over, right? Exactly, I do it too. So Hue has a great point.
According to the digital hub ThinkMobiles, Making a 3D graphic VR film has multiple forms elements:
The ideal set of equipment you need to make a VR movie includes: Unity3D, a VR headset, a 360 degree camera and Google VR SDK.
To start, ideally you need to know, or know someone who knows, how to use the equipment. Hire someone to help you in Unity and operate the other equipment to get the best results. Also, you can figure out how to use the equipment if you don’t have anyone to help by watching YouTube tutorials and trying different things.
Are you a game developer interested in VR movie making? "One thing that surprised me about my experience making a VR movie is just how similar digital filmmaking and video game development can be. As technology advances, these two fields are steadily growing closer together and beginning to share technologies and areas of expertise," Hue said. This opens new doors for tech-savvy experts in either field.
So, when thinking of making a VR movie there are steps and equipment you need to see this out. If you’re going into this process blindly, I’d do a lot of research and recruit people with knowledge on VR movie making. Good luck on your VR movie making process and have fun!
Want to make VR movies with us? Check out our Bachelor of Science in Virtual Reality.
Tempe, Arizona - October 29, 2018 - On November 5 and 6, 2018, University of Advancing Technology (UAT) hosted the VR for Good 2018 Summit, sponsored by VR Voice and Baltu Studios.
A prime location for this national event, UAT’s technology-infused campus in Tempe, Ariz., is full of VR equipment, developers and mentors. The event schedule boasted the industry’s best all presenting and discussing the ways Virtual Reality can positively impact society. The lineup included UAT Chief Academic Officer and Provost Dr. David Bolman.
UAT has been teaching Virtual Reality and sending alumni to the industry for about twenty years. The positive social impact Virtual Reality can have on the world was detailed further in a recent Study International article featuring UAT’s program. The article discusses that in addition to entertainment functions, VR can be used to, “simulate big data, create augmented reality apps…and recreate day-to-day experiences.” In the early 1990’s, UAT staff and students were working with the best VR technology of the time on immersive experiences, including an archeological site map for the Egyptian government and an architectural rendering of the then-named Bank One Ballpark.
Today, UAT’s VR students begin developing in the virtual world from day one. With UAT’s year-round schedule and project-based curriculum, students can obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Virtual Reality in less than 3 years and gain real world skills along the way.
UAT is an elite intimate private college in Tempe, AZ focused on educating students in advancing technology who desire to innovate in the areas of emerging technology disciplines. Living on campus, students are surrounded in a true living learning technology environment that incubates their ideas into innovations that students can patent and take to market. Students must create an innovation project to graduate.
About VR Voice
VR Voice has developed a unique event that covers virtual reality’s positive social impact in different industries. Our speaker line-up is committed to making change via VR/AR that promotes the greater good. Industries and organizations covering healthcare, learning and education, historic preservation, museums, government agencies, communications, news and journalism, and charitable causes are being profoundly affected by the VR/AR revolution and are covered in The VR for Good Summit.
Ashley Murry Valerie Cimarossa
University of Advancing Technology
UAT attended CactusCon 2017 in the Robotics Village on Saturday, October 1, at Phoenix Convention Center.
UAT Professor Joseph Horen showed off robot demonstrations as well as Arduino programming labs for attendees to learn to program and see the results via the hardware.
The Robotics Village was a new edition to Cactus Con but turned out to be a popular event for 8-17-year-olds who wanted to learn about Cyber Security and Robotics.
Have you been inside the New Technology Lab (NT Lab) lately? There are some new devices for UAT’s population of tech savvy individuals to use on campus. Stop in to the Bindery for a key to the NT Lab and get your innovative juices flowing with new technology!
Kor-FX Gaming Vest: The Kor-FX is a haptic feedback vest that lets you feel the game you are playing or developing. As part of the Virtual Reality Station, students will be able to combine the vest with the Oculus Rift to create truly immersive experiences.
Sphero Robotic Ball
Sphero: Sphero, an addition to the Mobile Development Station, will allow students to program a ball with a built in gyroscope. Students will be able to program games and other experiences that involve the robotic ball.
Cube 3D Touch Stylus: The Touch Stylus is a haptic 3D drawing device currently located at the 3D Print and Scan Station. Students will be able to sculpt their 3D models using this pen and feel the model as they manipulate it.
Epson BrightLink: The BrightLink is an interactive projector that allows students to manipulate the projection as if it were a tablet. Students will be able to map out their projects and collaborate with other students on a giant interactive screen.
Perception Neuron Motion Capture Suit
Perception Neuron: The Neuron is a 32-point wearable motion capture device set to be installed at the Virtual Reality station. Students will be able to motion capture themselves without needing a full motion capture setup and will be able to export their data to their Oculus Rift based games easily.
Oculus Rift: A Virtual Reality headset that allows you to step into your favorite game, get immersed in a movie or take a virtual tour, with the aid of special electronic equipment like a helmet, headset or gloves with sensors.
Epson Moverio Glasses: The Moverio glasses are an augmented reality display in a similar vein to Google Glass. It is powered by Android OS and will allow students at the Virtual Reality station to explore new ways to gamify the world.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help in using any of these new devices- that’s why they are here – for students to use! Maker Tech Mike Syfritt is happy to assist students with any of the new gadgets in the NT Lab.
In the depths of the Antarctic Ocean, robotic scientists deployed autonomous robots where no human has gone before with the goals of uncovering the speed of ice loss, obtaining samples of “salinity and temperature, oxygen and some optical properties of the water, [and predicting] future sea level rise,” according to CNN.
The field of robotics stretches far beyond the lair of the Emperor Penguin. Roboticists utilize emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to create smart robots that provide companionship to the elderly, help with search and rescue, crawl into small spaces, fix airplane engines, cook your food, entertain humans with their acrobatics and move potted plants in and out of the sun.
“Robotics is hardware, but it’s also software, embedded systems programming, problem solving, design and debugging multiple iterations,” said Dr. Jill Coddington, Program Champion of Robotics & Embedded Systems, Advancing Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Web Design, of the University of Advancing Technology (UAT).
“The definition of a robot, and what robotics encompasses, is huge. Your little autonomous vacuum that runs around your house and vacuums for you is a robot. A slot machine is a robot. The field of robotics is expanding so much, it covers more than it ever before,” Dr. Coddington said.
What the field lacks is the talent to support its exponential growth.
According to Sokanu, the robotics engineer job market is expected to increase by 6.4 percent between 2016 and 2026. And over the next 10 years, the U.S. alone will need 12,500 engineers in the field. “The demand for automation and robotics will continue to fuel these high paying jobs, and we expect this to continue for the next 20 years,” Coddington said.
So why aren’t more people jumping at this opportunity? Coddington believes it’s a misperception of one’s skillset and that the ability to enter a field that is beyond their reach. In reality, “The only barrier to entry of robotics is education,” Coddington explained. “Because we need so many roboticists, once you have that education, companies know you have the basics, so you can get an entry level job. That company will train you on the specifics of what they are doing.”
Coddington said the type of person usually drawn to the field of robotics is a detail-oriented problem solver who is good at design and iteration and likes to tinker. If you think about it, every robot needs to be programmed, and every robot needs someone to maintain, care, iterate, build and design them.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a robotics engineer with a Bachelor of Science degree earns an average of more than $81,000 per year, and a robotics technician with an associate degree earns an average of $60,000 per year. Having experience in the field of robotics or at a manufacturing company can elevate your opportunities for positions, and the skillsets easily transfer from one employer to the next.
Coddington also debunked the notion that robots will take all of our jobs.
“The robotics industry has found that robots may replace some jobs, but they are mostly manual, dangerous or super high heat jobs. And we’re finding that the jobs we are gaining are the managers of the of the robots, where you care for or fix the robot. We’re getting higher paid jobs because of the robots,” Coddington said.
Taking the leap to enter the field of robotics takes curiosity, initiative and passion.
“The sky isn’t even the limit. We use robots to fix our satellites and explore the deep sea. Robots are becoming more pervasive in our lives. We’re going to see more and more robots all the time."
UAT offers online and in-person Robotics and Embedded Systems degree classes that teach you real-world skills needed for a position in the robotics field from day one. Students need little to no knowledge in robotics to start their education and will gain hands-on exposure to the latest technologies used in the current job market.
If you’re curious about programming, electrical engineering, digital maker or fabrication, UAT will help you take your skills set to the next level. You can learn more about earning your Robotics and Embedded Systems degree at UAT here.