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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Computer science open house displays latest faculty research

The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Department and the Department of Computer Science welcomed the public Saturday to view the latest technology UH faculty are developing.

"Computer science is more than just sitting in front of a computer, programming," Marc Garbey, computer science and engineering technology professor and department chair, said. UH and high school students from Houston were able to view 15 booths run by computer science professors and their research assistants.

The booths covered a range of topics, including graphics alteration, an analysis of optometry technology and a Halo 3 party.

"High-performance computing is the driver of innovation," computer science professor Barbara Chapman said. "We’re trying to get on top of innovation, since the expertise at the University is unique."

One of the major technological advances showcased at the open house was parallel processing; it involves two or more processors computing the same problem simultaneously, allowing the task to be completed more quickly

Another large component of the open house was a booth display on wind energy.

"Problems of mechanical engineering become problems of computer science," Garbey said. "This wind mill simulation lets us design and test within computer simulations."

The booth, "Need Clean Energy," pointed out how a new type of wind generator was more efficient than a commonly used windmill. This new type of wind generator is silent and can be mounted on houses or buildings, Garbey said.

Other booths covered technological security, such as "Your Face is Your Password," which was created by computer science professor Ioannis Kakadiaris.

"Facial recognition software is adding another layer of security," Kakadiaris said. "Two-dimensional pictures can be easily fooled. Three-dimensional models cannot be fooled, since it maps the topography of your face."

This technology, which uses a special kind of algorithm, ensures safer standards when it comes to hacking and identity theft, he said.

For example, a camera at an ATM can scan a person’s face and transform it into a computerized model of their likeness that can be used to positively identify the individual.

Another booth popular among viewers was the "Neat-o-Games: Life is a Game, Play it," which was a form of game technology that encouraged people to lose weight.

"We’re trying to incorporate activity into daily life," Kostas Kazakos, a computer science research assistant, said. "Players build up points through physical movement."

The game, which was developed by Kazakos and associate professor Ioannis Pavlidis, works with the use of a sensor and a cell phone. A 3-D accelerometer tracks the player’s movement then transmits the data to the player’s cell phone via Bluetooth technology.

"Players can accumulate points by parking further from their building," Pavlidis said. "The silly things can give you a benefit."

Players are pitted against each other and for every "race" they win they are awarded prizes such as coupons for cell phones.

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