Going Perceptual - Introducing Our Ultimate Coder Challengers

Going Perceptual is the theme of the latest Ultimate Coder Challenge, where 7 teams will have the task to use the latest Ultrabook convertible hardware along with the Intel Perceptual Computing SDK and camera to build the Ultimate app prototype, in just 7 weeks.  We recruited 7 developer teams and or individuals to take on the challenge. Over the 7 weeks they will disclose their work including the issues, successes and learnings while working with this new technology.  We all get a front row seat of the action starting February 15th.  Meanwhile get acquanted to these developers, noting each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.  Large experienced teams have resources, but their success with measured approaches and team collaboration may turn out to be a challenge in just 7 short weeks.  Individual will not have the same resources but can be nimble, work their own hours, while only needing a consensus of one.  

Who do you think will win?

Sixense Entertainment founded in 2007 by a team of experts in the visual simulation and entertainment industries. Sixense recognizes that the full potential of a 3D experience would only be achieved by a system that could recognize the user’s every gesture. Building on our ultra-precise motion tracking hardware technology Sixense created a software development platform for all motion input devices. Sixense now develops immersive software content for all motion tracking technologies, including electromagnetic trackers (such as the Razer Hydra), depth cameras (such as Intel’s upcoming desktop camera) and hybrid inertial/optical systems (such as Sony’s PlayStation Move). Our first PlayStation 3 title, Portal 2 In Motion, was voted Best Use of PlayStation Move for 2012 by the readers of the official PlayStation blog. Sixense also developed the featured demo of the new depth camera for Intel’s keynote at CES 2013.

Project: For Ultimate Coder, Sixense will create an app called Puppet Theater, which is described is a freeform and creative experience allowing users to intuitively interact with virtual puppets using motion input.

 


Simian Squared are a British video game developer, founded by brothers Robert Cummings and Giuseppe Landolina with a passion for unique and challenging projects. You may recognise them as the developers of Physynth, a uniquely beautiful physics-driven musical experience and The Other Brothers, a soon to be released platformer with a striking, modern take on retro style.

Project: Simian Squared will be creating an immersive, experience that will give users the chance to use their hands to sculpt digital clay into pottery. The user will use physical gestures and motions to mould, manipulate and then paint the clay. This team explains they will put an emphasis on getting it to feel as natural, and look as beautiful as possible to give the user a wonderful experience that also fully demonstrates the power of the Perceptual Computing and Ultrabook.

 


Lee Bamber is no stranger to Ultimate Coder, having participated in last year's challenge. Lee has over 20 years’ experience in the games industry and was involved with the very first version of LEGO Mindstorms that turns every day Lego into programmable robots! He started programming at the age of nine on the Commodore VIC-20 and over the next three decades went on to create such brands as Dark Basic, The 3D Gamemaker, FPS Creator and App Game Kit (with a little help from his friends at The Game Creators). His hobbies include skiing and drinking tea.

Project: Lee explains a great ‘Perceptual Computing’ app must provide an experience that transcends the limitations of existing solutions. His project will be to create a new breed of Webcam software which solves the problem of bandwidth lag while teleconferencing with multiple users over the internet. At the same time, he will build features into the app to allow hands-free sharing and manipulation of images, voice and facial synthesis to protect your privacy and the ability to transport yourself into a virtual 3D scene such as a conference room or Viking mead hall.

 


Infrared5/ Brass Monkey:  Infrared5 is a digital agency that builds cutting edge technology for its clients like LucasFilm, Hasbro, Match.com and more. The business was originally started in 2007 based on our team members’ creation of the open source media server red5: http://red5.org. Since then we have expanded our areas of expertise to include web, desktop and mobile experiences. When working on the Star Wars: Trench Run project in 2009, our team members pushed the boundaries once again creating Brass Monkey: http://playbrassmonkey.com, a next generation browser based game system that uses phones as game controllers.

Project: Infrared5 is interested in what becomes possible when combining game play experiences like those available on Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s Kinect. To that end, they plan on using the perceptual computing SDK for head tracking, allowing the player to essentially peer into the tablet/laptop screen like a window. When the player moves his/her head the view of the 3D world will change depending on the angle of the player’s vision. This team explains they've seen other experiments of this sort and believe that combining this with a smartphone as a controller would create a very realist and immersive experience.


Eskil Steenberg runs Quel Solaar as a an independent development and research studio, working on games, creative tools, and technologies. While perhaps most known for the procedural action adventure game "Love", Quel Solaar has also produced a range of creative tool for everything form 3D modeling, to asset management and texturing. The studio has a strong commitment to opensource and shares much of the developed libraries and technologies under a Free BSD licence.

Project: Eskils project will work to enhance a simple to use platform library with features such as multitouch, tilt sensors, head-tracking and stereoscopics. Eskil explains there are several different types of existing applications such as "Adri Om", a data visualization tool, (http://youtu.be/KJ-0ETTjHDk) and "Dark side of the moon", a Real Time strategy game (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFvAMPsO-NA) using the platform library that will be modified to showcase the possibilities with these technologies. Eskil seeks to develop an identified interface toolkit with sliders, buttons, menus and so on designed specifically for software development where the application may run on as diverse hardware setups as: tablets, TVs, PCs, Laptops, convertibles, tables, head-mounted displays or large scale multi-user walls and include features such as wands, head tracking, multitouch and stereoscopics.


Peter O’Hanlon:  If you've trolled the articles and forums of Code Project, you probably know Peter and his mad skills. While Peter used to work primarily with C/C++, for the last 11 years, he's focused heavily on C#, first with Windows Forms and ASP.NET, and for the last five years or so on WPF. In doing so, he's come to be fairly well known on Code Project, where he's written articles that seem to have been well received. At the same time, Peter has released a few Open Sourcey type of things such as an MVVM framework for WPF and a couple of Visual Studio addin, as well as starting the XAML Experts group on Facebook. Peter explains "This is all part of my families fiendish master plan for me not to have a life."

Project: Huda is a photo editing application, which works differently to just about any photo editing package you’ve ever used before. In most applications of this type, edits are destructive – in other words, once you’ve saved it, the original picture is lost. By keeping things separate, you can change the order of filters, insert new filters, remove them and so on. Huda, makes use of the Ultrabook and Perceptual Computing to provide a wide variety of inputs and manipulations – bringing the type of manipulation you see in films like Minority Report to real world applications.


Code-Monkeys are not entirely new to Ultimate Coder, with some of this team taking part in last years challenge. Code-Monkeys is an application and web development company delivering award-winning solutions for over 12 years. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and using the best technology on the market, we are a full-service application development company focused on building applications that solve problems, affect change, and help grow business. Code-Monkey's strategy builds on their expertise and allows their clients to feel confident and secure that they’re capable of building and implementing any application and they know we’ll get the job done on time and on budget.

Project:This team plan integrate multi-touch and perceptual computing features into fan favorite app Stargate Gunship. While doing this they plan to write multi-touch plugins as well as full perceptual plugins for Unity 4 and windows 8. This team explains they have the skills and know how to expand on existing Unity touch and gesture tracking features.



So as you can see plenty of ambition from both teams and individual developers.  Some have experience with Perceptual Computing and motion tracking app development. Others have a following in the developer community and known their skill and technical risk taking,  All are innovators, and with seven short weeks of development, it may be an even playing field.  Meanwhile, for us, we get a great opportunity to learn.  

How to catch the action?

  • Follow and join the conversation on Twitter by following the Hashtag #ultimatecoder.  
  • Check us out on Facebook starting February 15th
  • Follow all the posts including judges reactions each week on our website launching February 15th
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