Ultimate Coder Challenge Week 7: Now it’s The Judges’ Turn

This was the last week for our Challengers in the Ultimate Coder Contest: Going Perceptual to work on their apps and write up their last blog posting. The work for judges is only just beginning, as they receive the finished apps this week and begin the job of determining which app is the Ultimate in displaying perceptual computing technology. Here’s a recap of what our challengers and judges have been up to in Week 7:

Sixense: The team finished up with their codebase, polishing up the art and graphic assets with legs for the Big Bad Wolf and extra “cuteness” for the three little pigs. The straw house is done with a great explosion effect when a user blows it down, and more houses are on the way. Hand calibration for users is a very useful feature, and the team also gives us a shortlist of what they plan on adding to the puppet app as they move beyond the challenge. You can read the entire post here.

Judge Steve: “I think we can safely say that Sixense have the cutest result in the competition.”
Judge Nicole: “Sounds like everything is right on track, good work on getting the audio integrated with the capture. And the legs do look good, even though I didn’t think he needed them.  Can’t wait to load it up and try it out!”

Lee Bamber: Lee’s given us a semi-final version of his teleconferencing app this week – feedback is greatly encouraged. He’s added a few extra features including the ability to shoot sparklers out of your fingertips, something that is sure to come in handy during those long meetings. Lee gives detailed information on how to set up your PC to allow the software to communicate over the network, tells us how he invented a new tracker for body mass in his spare time, and releases the source code to the whole thing as a parting touch. You can read Lee’s entire post here.

Judge Sascha: “It doesn't only look great, your video conferencing app is absolutely impressive (well at least from what I saw so far) and I can't wait to check it out.”
Judge Chris: “The overwhelming feeling you get when reading the blogs is one of a challenge accepted and, almost, tamed. This is uncharted territory for the contestants and that territory is not paved smoothly: the SDK is in beta and the capabilities of the hardware are still limited.”

Code-Monkeys: This week the team writes up a detailed post on how they worked through several issues that came up as they worked on the StarGate Gunship project, including integrating PerC features into an existing product, simplifying depth data from the camera, and head tracking. Real world testing at GDC gave them much needed user feedback for the game, and they look forward to what the judges have to say about their project. You can read the entire Code-Monkeys post here.

Judge Steve: “The Code Monkeys highlight something that I think is extremely important with any perceptual computing implementation. Feedback.”
Judge Sascha: “Without revealing anything about my final decision I think it is fair to say that like Peter and Eskil, you gave some fundamental feedback which could even turn into a standard for future SDK updates. The head and hand feedback should be mandatory for perceptual computing software!”

Simian Squared: Some pretty high level discussion for the Simian Squared team this week, as they talk about tessellation, mesh, and DX11. They write about the problem of taking sculpting, a completely tactile exercise with limitless outcomes, and applying perceptual computing technology to it – no easy task, for sure. They write that PerC is not about the background algorithms; rather, it’s about figuring out input controls that “feel natural to human beings.” Well said. You can read Simian Squared’s post here.    

Judge Nicole: “A pottery simulation app that will allow you to real time manipulate the clay is no small order and we’ve only got a few more days to find out exactly how these fellas fared.”
Judge Chris: “It's close. Really, really close and while the contestants were not always able to achieve their first order approximation of what they wanted, they have done exactly what good developers do and focus on what the outcome they want is, and then work backwards.”

Eskil Steenberg: Eskil writes this week about making apps vs. making processes, and it’s quite an intriguing discussion. His premise is that developers as a rule need to think about “building for the future”, supporting the technologies that are coming out and taking advantage of what is already available. You can read Eskil’s entire post here.

Judge Steve: “Eskil starts his final post with a thumbs up for Ultrabooks that I can relate to. It’s all about quick availability and with Haswell, that’s going to get even better when the new Connected Standby Ultrabooks appear in the second half of 2013.”
Judge Nicole: “It has been a pleasure reading about the vision of the future with a keen eye for the logistics of how it can be implemented.”

Infrared5: The Brass Monkey/Infrared5 team added a few new features to the Kiwi Catapult Revenge game, including the ability to breathe fire by yelling “fire!” via voice control, in addition to shooting lasers; serious firepower coming from Karl the Kiwi. Optimization was a priority this week, as the game runs quite differently on the Lenovo Ultrabook™ than it does within the development environment. A playable demo is available this week, and they share their plans for continuing on with the app. You can read the entire post here.

Judge Chris: “Instead of tracking everything just do your tracking work on the object (e.g. hand) you want to track and ignore all other input data. Speed improvements came quickly, as did a usable (but maybe not perfect) solution.”

Judge Sascha: “Your game looks like so much fun to play, that I can't wait to check it out with my setup here. Connecting the usability of a smartphone with the potential of the perceptual computing kit was a fantastic idea!”

Peter O’Hanlon: Peter writes this week about the true meaning of perceptual computing, as well as where we are presently and where he believes we’re going to go in the future with this exciting realm of technology. His image editor, Huda, has voice recognition in regards to filters, and it’s been made more user-friendly for those using a touchscreen. He plans on making this app cloud friendly as well as a web-based alternative – looking forward to it. You can read Peter’s post here.

Judge Steve: “Peter has highlighted that it’s bloody hard work as a singleton and of course, I’ll be taking that into account when judging.”
Judge Sascha: “Peter I am sure that you and Eskil gave one of the best feedback regarding the Perceptual computing hardware and the SDK. This is so important at this early stage.”

Where do we go from here?

The Challenge is effectively over for our coders, and they are submitting their apps to the judges as we speak. Next week, our judges will get the chance to test these apps, and they’ll write their last post on Wednesday, April 17th. The announcement of the winner of the Ultimate Coder Challenge: Going Perceptual will be on Wednesday, April 24th. Stay tuned!


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