It’s already Week 4 in the Ultimate Coder Challenge: Going Perceptual and our challengers have brought some seriously amazing work to the table at this point in the contest. This is the official halfway point, and progress is only going to accelerate from here. To get the latest updates in Ultimate Coder, check out the official Ultimate Coder page, catch us on Facebook, or follow #ultimatecoder on Twitter.
Sixense: We finally get a look at one of the Little Pigs in Sixense’s rendering of the “Three Little Pigs” story this week, and it’s impressive! The team has been exploring the Unity 3D tree creator tool, so we’re going to see some pretty realistic attributes and texturing in the weeks ahead. They’ve also tweaked Unity with a custom “Director” script that allows them to author the storyline scene by scene, and figured out a way to wire puppet controls to inputs. Next week, Sixense promises us the first playable version of their puppet app. Until we can get our hands on the real thing, a cool puppet demo showing us how the “Pinch” gesture works is below.
You can read all about the work Sixense did this week here.
Lee Bamber: Lee’s efforts to turn the teleconferencing industry on its head continue apace.
This week, Lee’s turned his prototype into a working app. In the screenshot above, he’s demonstrating how conferencing actually works with both a host and a caller. We get a short glimpse of what the PerC camera data looks like after dealing with network packets, something he’s going to be working on next week along with improving rendered visuals. Lee also gives us a detailed look at how he constructed his 3D avatar, and the issues he faced when trying to integrate voice networking into this app. You can read Lee’s entire post here.
Code-Monkeys: This week, the Code-Monkeys battle the issue of the “UZ Factor”, i.e., user laziness.
In theory, it seems like we all should be able to pull what Tom Cruise was doing in Minority Report and use our hands and arms to play a game, in this case, Stargate Gunship. But in reality, it’s a lot harder to keep up trigger pulls, ninja kicks, or punches for more than a few minutes (this is the secret of why Tom was so buff in that movie, according to Judge Chris Maunder!). Judge Nicole Scott wonders if gaze tracking might be a good solution to this problem, but we shall see. Read Code-Monkeys post here.
This week, we got the chance to see what the clay is going to look like in Simian Squared’s sculpting environment. Realistic? Absolutely! If these renderings are any indication of what the actual PerC sculpting experience is going to be like, we’re in for a really great time. We also get a glimpse of the first background platform, a serene Japanese setting. Next week we can look forward to an actual pottery demo and an inside look at the code behind this intriguing project. You can read more of Simian Squared’s post here.
Quel Solaar: Eskil talks this week about API design, with a detailed walkthrough of his particular approach (non-object oriented) to constructing UI elements. Judge Chris is not supportive of this: “I'll be honest and say I'm not a fan of his approach. OO development helps separate who is responsible for what, and while that may not result in the tersest of code, it does promote maintainability.” We’ll see what Eskil comes up with next week; he promises a look at what the user interface he’s working on actually will look like. You can read all of Eskil’s post here.
Brass Monkey/Infrared5: Issues with eye tracking let Brass Monkey to make the decision to release their tracking code as open source (eventually) to help out other developers going down the same road. Their latest demo of Kiwi Catapult Revenge (get it here!) shows off the artistic renderings and gameplay, but more importantly, flamethrowers.
A discussion of Laser Cats-inspired game design and first person POV rounds out this week’s post, along with a detailed look at how Brass Monkey is conquering head tracking. You can read their entire post here.
Peter O’Hanlon: Problems with gesture code slowed Peter down a little this week, and he writes up the debugging process for us. He also makes the difficult decision to drop voice support from Huda, his image editing application.
The interface is coming right along, but the big news this week is image filtering. Judge Steve ponders Peter’s dilemma: “Cycling through a lot of filters using gestures could take a lot of time. Gestures need to add value to the user and I understand that these could be used in lie-back mode but what about speed, efficiency and creativity – one of the key features of your app. In my experience, creative people don’t want barriers.” We’ll see what happens as Peter moves forward; you can read his entire post here.
Steve “Chippy” Paine: Steve notes that all the teams are in completely different places, but all of them need to start looking at feature freeze this coming week. He gives Peter some great advice about image filtering, gets excited about Brass Monkey/Infrared5’s playable demo of their game “Kiwi Catapult Revenge”, is impressed and inspired by Lee’s continued work on reenergizing the entire teleconferencing industry, expresses concern that while Eskil’s framework is certainly impressive it has not displayed any Perceptual Computing elements as yet, agrees with Code-Monkeys diagnosis of User Laziness being a core issue, asks Sixense a question about their real-time puppet response time, and enjoys the quality artwork that Simian Squared is displaying with their sculpture app. You can read Steve’s entire post here.
Chris Maunder: Chris’s main concern this week is that there’s not enough theme music going on, specifically AC/DC (I would prefer a little Metallica myself). He notes that Sixense’s work with puppets is forcing the depth camera to go places it’s never gone before, wonders if Lee is turbo-charging everything in his house aka Tim Taylor from “Home Improvement”, likes Simian Squared’s Japanese theme, chides Peter for not being detailed enough while wondering if voice control could be an accent issue, takes issue with Eskil’s view of object-oriented programming, agrees with Code-Monkeys hypothesis of user laziness, and loves Brass Monkey’s “take no prisoners” approach to problem solving. You can read Chris’s entire post here.
Nicole Scott: Nicole is really impressed by the progress of our challengers. She enjoys the action-packed gameplay of Brass Monkey’s Kiwi Catapult (flame throwers are cool!), wonders if Code-Monkeys could perhaps introduce gaze tracking to address the problem of user laziness and game weariness, loves the artwork renderings shown by Simian Squared, is impressed by how Sixense continues to handle setbacks, offers some good advice to Peter on how to craft his image file structure, notes that Lee’s teleconferencing program is looking “very next generation”, and looks forward to seeing Eskil’s work next week in action. You can read her entire post here.
Sascha: Sascha is genuinely excited about the progress of our Challengers and it really shows in his post this week. Lee’s teleconferencing software already has its first customer in Sascha, who is quite the world traveler! He also requests that Sixense go even further with the cuteness factor, reminds Brass Monkey/Infrared5 of where a certain company called Rovio started (just a little game called “Angry Birds” that started it all), encourages Peter to keep on with his high quality blogging – going so far as to ask him to start his own coding-focused blog, is completely giddy about Eskil’s UI project, and urges Simian Squared to go even further with the virtual pottery experience, making it a complete sensory experience. You can read Sascha’s entire post here.
We’re Halfway Through
This week marks the halfway point through the Ultimate Coder Challenge, and it’s downhill from here. Make sure to follow all the action as our coders keep polishing and refining their cutting-edge apps. Who do you think will win the Ultimate Challenge?