Post Project Ideas

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For the second half of the semester, you will conduct a research project in teams of approximately 3.

Use this optional assignment to post your project ideas. This is your chance to advertise your project to the rest of the class, before we form project teams.

Submission Instructions

  • Create a section below with the following wiki syntax: ===Topic (Firstname Lastname)===.
  • In the section, briefly state, for each idea:
    • What is the main idea?
    • Who are the target users?
    • What are your strengths? What are you looking for in project partners?
  • You can post as many ideas as you like.

Post your Ideas Here

Example Topic (Bjoern Hartmann)

Lorem ipsum.

Self-Customizing Products (Mark, Shiry, Valkyrie)

Hipster ipsum.

Collaborative Optimization of Vehicular Resource Usage (Daniel Haas)

Bacon ipsum.

The AMPLab at Berkeley recently generated some buzz with the Carat Project, which aims to detect and diagnose code misbehavior that wastes energy on cell phones by comparing coarse-grained measurements over a community of phone users and identifying correlations between higher energy use and device state (e.g. running apps, device model, or operating system version). This approach led to a smartphone app with 300,000 installs and counting.

Carat's approach to answering questions about data is not unique to the mobile energy use space, however. I'd like to build a device that plugs into onboard car computers (probably using the OBD-II interface), so we can ask and answer similar questions about gas consumption w/r/t how people use their cars (driving behavior, routes taken, car system state, etc.). The device will interface with the car using OBD, provide additional data with a GPS chip, and probably sync to a smartphone with wifi or bluetooth. Some of my other research is focused on building a platform for "Machine Learning as a Service" in the cloud, and I hope to leverage the platform to provide analytics on the data. Finally, a smartphone app will present the results of the analytics back to users (how does their driving affect their gas consumption, for example).

My background is mostly in computer systems, so I'd like to partner up with someone a) more hardware inclined or b) more ML/algorithms-inclined.

Shower Tablet (Taeil Kwak)

My typical shower flow goes like this: I turn my shower handle to what I think is my right temperature. I turn on music on my phone and leave it outside the shower. After some time, I check to see if my water temperature is right. If it is, I step in and shower. If I'm listening to radio, I rage in the shower that I can't change the song.

So my proposal is a tablet that controls your shower. It remembers your shower and the users, so anyone can get their ideal temperature with the push of a button. There's also a lot of potential for extra features such as water conservation or showering at someone else's place with your remembered temperature. You could also control your music, watch TV shows, or read news.

This project has a lot of components. Android development, motor and sensor controls, water-proof construction.

Capacitive Gloves (Taeil Kwak)

While tablets are amazingly portable and great for consuming content, it isn't great at creating content. This is mostly because an on-screen keyboard doesn't work as well or feel as nice as a physical keyboard. The biggest problem with this is that we lose sense of where our hands go and we don't feel the feedback of actually pressing a key.

Capacitive gloves are gloves with capacitive fingertips, but also distinguishes each finger from each other. Pair this with a custom software keyboard, and a user can ignore where their fingers go as long as it remains on the screen.

It works by having a user start on a displayed keyboard. Distinct changes in direction will type out keys (your left pinky taps up, that's a Q. your left pinky taps down, that's a Z). Subtle changes in direction will be registered as a drifting hand. As your hand drifts the software takes that into account and "moves" the drifts keyboard with your hand. The end result is that you can forget where your hand is and type freely.

My biggest worry with this one is that it needs to be done well to demonstrate its use at all. It could be hard to do within the scope of this class. This could be an interesting one if a good mobile developer wants to join.

TV Remote Control & Analytics for Smartphones (Wei Wu)

The average American spends 2.7 hours a day watching television, and a majority of that is still spent in front of an actual television set. Typically, operating an entertainment center at home involves at least two remote controls. Even with the proliferation of smartphones, there exists no great solution that allows people to simplify their controls and consolidate it through their phones.

From a UI perspective, TV control through the phone has the potential to greatly improve user experience. People typically carry their phones on them at all times, eliminating the nuisance of figuring out which remote to press to operate the TV. A dedicated app can create a richer, more interactive way for avid TV watchers to find shows they want to watch and control the TV. In addition, a smart phone offers a natural way to collect data about user watching habits on the TV. Current TV-watching analytics run by Nielsen are antiquated, relying on diary studies and special equipment installed in select American homes. Analytics can be useful for advertisers, TV networks, and end-users, depending on how they are used.

I would like to make a prototype IR remote control that plugs into the headphone jack of a smartphone device. I am comfortable with mobile/web app development, Solidworks and 3D modeling, but I am not as strong with electronics/hardware design. If anyone is excited about the latter two parts and this idea, talk to me!

Smart Cup (Amy Pavel, Steve Rubin, and You?)

We want to track beverage consumption. Most obviously, you may want to track hydration levels. We're proposing a cup that would track how much you drink and what you drink. This would interface with a web/smartphone app so you could track your consumption over time.

This would benefit anyone who is concerned with their health and wellbeing, or someone who is trying to diet and wants to avoid certain beverages. Some people have to drink a certain amount of water each day for medical reasons.

We have lots of experience writing web apps and doing development on the software-end of things; mild proficiency with electronics; pretty much no experience with 3D modeling.

Intelligent Bookmark (Amy Pavel, Steve Rubin, and You?)

Say you want to track your reading habits but you don't own/want a kindle. We're proposing a smart bookmark that tracks what you're reading and your reading progress with minimal user interaction with the device itself (possibly just a scan of the ISBN and then using the bookmark as normal?). Readers could then use a web/smartphone app to view their progress and sharing favorite passages/chapters/etc.

This would benefit readers who want a record of their progress without having to manually record stats. It could also be used to incentive people to read more if they could, for example, see the progress of the other members of their book group.

We have lots of experience writing web apps and doing development on the software-end of things; mild proficiency with electronics; pretty much no experience with 3D modeling.

Presentation Helper (Amy Pavel, Steve Rubin, and You?)

Video recordings of presentations often leave something to be desired. Sometimes all you see is the powerpoint slides, and sometimes you just see a wide shot of the speaker, the projected slides, and the chalkboard. We're proposing a device that is attached to the speaker that infers what kind of action to speaker is doing and edits the video accordingly. For example: if the presenter's hand is moving quickly, he may be writing on the chalkboard, so the video should zoom in on his hand. If the presenter is standing at the computer, he is probably showing slides from the powerpoint, so the video should show the slides with the speaker's upper torso and head in a picture-in-picture box.

This would be useful for professors and students who want to create/distribute/watch high-quality video lectures.

We have lots of experience writing web apps and doing development on the software-end of things; mild proficiency with electronics; pretty much no experience with 3D modeling.

Space Tracker / Harry Potter Clock (Amy Pavel, Steve Rubin, and You?)

We would like to track where you are. For example, you may want to know how long you tend to spend in different parts of your house or apartment, or how much time you're spending at work or the gym. Presenting these stats in a web/smartphone app could help you re-organize your life if you may be spending too much time at work, or on the couch, etc. The device could also detect things like how much you've been sitting, to make sure that you don't spend too much of your day in an ergonomically poor position. We could also make a "Harry Potter Clock" that shows the viewer where his few best friends/family are at the moment. Its hands would point to different locations like "school," "work," "gym," "errands," and "mortal peril."

This could be useful for families that want to keep track of everyone or for individuals who want to organize their lives a little bit better.

We have lots of experience writing web apps and doing development on the software-end of things; mild proficiency with electronics; pretty much no experience with 3D modeling.

Mindful Spending / Smart Credit Card (Bryan Rea)

The US has over 1.1 billion credit cards in circulation and over $2.7 trillion dollars in purchases are made on plastic each year. Unsurprisingly, we have accumulated staggering amounts of of credit card debt, about $800 billion with the average indebted household holding over $15,000 in credit card debt. What is surprising is that a product so antagonistic towards its users is so ubiquitous. I think one of the major reasons people struggle with credit cards is the design of the card itself. Specifically the fact that cards completely obfuscate your spending. The physical design of the credit card hasn't changed since the 1950's. The magnetic stripe on the back still holds a whopping 132 bytes. What does a modern credit card, one that helps people make better financial decisions look like?

This product would be useful for anyone who uses credit cards, especially people who have trouble controlling their spending with the card. The product might end up being a nice bridge between old school credit cards and the oh so awkward NFC payment mechanisms starting to pop up.

I've done a lot of research on credit cards. I'm good on UI / UX side of things and have a enough of a technical background to get by.

Smart Health Reminder (Sean Chen)

Problem: Many times we become too concentrated at work and forgot a lot of stuff such as taking a break to stretch, drink some water, etc. Software reminders doesn't solve the problem because a) it can't accurately tell whether you've been really sitting for a while and b) it has no clues about your context, such as you are in a class or in a meeting.

Idea: combine a) hardware sensors that monitor your behavior (how long you've been sitting, are you leaning forward too much?) so no manually setup required with b) software applications that fetch your calendars so it doesn't keep notifying you at the wrong time. I thought about a smart cup which detects your water consumption status. I feel like adding one more feature would make it a complete "health solution for your working environment".

About me: Software engineer background, experienced in web and mobile programming. Current areas of focus are user interaction/user experience design, familiar with making wireframes and mockups.

Note: I was kind of shocked that my ideas are incredibly similar to Amy and Steve's when I opened this page. I just want to clarify there was no copying and the proof is that I pitched this idea earlier in the semester in New Product Development class and also discussed with a couple of classmates in School of Information. So...great minds think alike? :P Not to mention I had an idea to go with a time tracking app last semester which is pretty much like "Space Tracker". Amy and Steve, we definitely should talk.

Smart Fridge (Sean Chen)

Problem: Many food were wasted when they got expired and thrown away. To my findings, several factors might have caused that. Some are due to shopping behaviors and therefore out of the class's scope. But one factor which is relevant is people forget what they have in the fridge and hence forget to eat/drink them before they expired.

Idea: Put sensors in the fridge to tell how much food/beverages you have. By getting its weight and comparing with previous data, the system can figure out its consumption status and the date it was placed into the fridge. Design the fridge space or request simple inputs would allow the system to know what type of food they are and estimate their expiring dates. Send the data to a software application to visualize the fridge food status and remind user when things are about to go bad. In addition, the user would be able to check on his phone when shopping to tell how much, for example, milk he still have to make his shopping decisions.

About me: Software engineer background, experienced in web and mobile programming. Current areas of focus are user interaction/user experience design, familiar with making wireframes and mockups.

Physical Contextual Authentication for Mobile Devices (Chris Thompson)

Problem: PIN authentication on phones sucks. Relatedly, there's no decent way to give your phone to a friend and only give them "partial" access to your device.

Idea: There's been previous work on extending the authentication model for Android to be based on context: where you are (your office vs. a different city), what other devices are nearby (your laptop), how long you've been stationary, etc. What if we extended this model another step to include physical interactive tokens that were unique to each individual? What if your device could learn who your friends are and give them pre-specified levels of access to your devices, so you could share your gadgets? (In a study one of my research collaborators did, they found that people were extremely apprehensive of sharing their devices, even with their partners or family. This is a real world concern and something that people are not comfortable with!) What if this token could be a simple device that connects to your phone via bluetooth as well as via a unique capacitative "tag in" interface using tech like used in CapStones, and different authentication levels would be unlocked based on the level of active authentication performed?

Target Users: I think a prototype could be aimed at technically savvy, highly social, younger Android users. I think this demographic has a strong integration of their lives with their smartphones, has well reasoned concerns about what "privacy" means to them, and would frequently be in scenarios where they might want to share their devices. The concept is applicable to all mobile device users, but that group would be a good starting point (and would probably be a good forecast of where things are heading).

About Me: I have a background in security research (previously working on network security focusing on privacy and anonymity). My recent work has focused on HCI-Sec, particularly usable security for mobile devices and authentication schemes. I have experience with designing user studies, working with Android, and I'm at the "reasonable hobbyist" level of competency with 3D modeling and electronics design. I'd be looking for people to split work on the physical design aspects, the modifications necessary to Android, potential extensions applying ML, etc. There's room for a wide range of interests to contribute ideas/improvements/expertise. If you think any of this sounds interesting, shoot me an email at