This year, the MRes group projects shifted theme from “a museum space” to “the living city” – and there was an accompanying shift in focus. I’d characterise this as a move away from a more portfolio-based approach that we saw last year. With a larger number of Processing demonstration models around ABMs, CA and datavis, last year’s students took advantage of the museum trope to include work from throughout the term. This year’s theme was more explicitly geared towards linking data from the urban realm into a 3D model, and consequently the outputs tended to reflect a smaller number of components with a larger or more complex workflow.
Nicola Clark, Ayana Kito, Daniel Lam and Bala Soundararaj went down the augmented reality route, keying an android app from the UCL map to display a 3D vis which incorporated live, campus-relevant information. I thought that one of the great strengths of this project was its focus and its incorporation of the practical (such as cluster room availability) to the imaginative (such as audio from the Sounds of UCL competition). Keying off UCL maps is a very smart move – all new UCL students get one of these maps in their welcome packs, and they’re dotted about the campus on notice boards, so this could be a great tool for new students. Sometimes a very focussed idea means students (or problem-solvers in any context) can use their energies to overcome the technical and aesthetic challenges rather than researching and deciding between multiple options. Although there’s usually more than one way to crack a nut! But having clear output objectives limits your freedom in a way that can force you to be creative, as this team has been.
Kostas Cheliotis, Fara Binti Jafri, Emily McKenzie, and Oi Ching Yeung created a model based on a simplified model of Soho, incorporating bus and bike hire information as well as photo textures imported from google street view and mobile agents. Their original concept of an “Alice in Wonderland” exploration of the area was retained in the shifting spatial and temporal scales of the user interface. They didn’t create a direct photorealistic Soho experience, but by using the street maps and relevant textures, they did achieve a hybrid between an abstract game and a realistic Soholike experience. The team identified potential applications in scenario testing of alternative layouts, and comparison of historical Soho with the present day – I’d see the main barriers to this as being around streamlining the workflow, due to the problems of incorporating the different data elements. It’s usually enough work in these projects to build the visualisation without getting to the dissemination and training though – potentially something we could focus on more in subsequent years as course leaders.
If you’re interested in joining the MRes this year, applications are open for full-time students until August 2nd, so you need to apply right now, or as close to right now as you can. Applications for part-time study close on September 6th, and we have a few part-time students each year if you’d prefer to go down that route. If you’ve got any questions, tweet or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).