Following the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck southern Taiwan, CHEI’s Rapid Response Team was activated and is en-route to collect perishable data, needed to understand the observed damage patterns and better prepare for future extreme events. Prof. Tara Hutchinson and Eric Lo have CHEI’s deep toolbox at their disposal, including terrestrial and airborne sensor systems.

The Fall 2015 issue of American Archaeology (Vol. 19, No. 3), has a feature story titled “Here Come The Drones,” exploring the possibilities, challenges and overall impact of drones on the field of archaeology. The article is featuring our work and visually highlights results from our 2014 Napa Valley post-earthquake reconnaissance research with focus on historic landmarks.

Professor Kuester presented an invited talk at Cinegrid 2015, titled “From Immersive Frames to 3D Scenes,” covering next generation 2D and 3D imaging and modeling techniques for the rapid creation of 3D scenes for use in immersive environments. The talk explored the potential of ultra-resolution, spherical, stereo image and video acquisition enabled by our CAVEcam, CAVEcam-X, Camlot and SENSEI imaging systems, for the creation of highly realistic and accurate environments. Environments suitable for data exploration and analysis supportung our heritage engineering research, while also creating content and unique opportunities for the coming tidal wave of personal Virtual Reality systems, including head mounted displays (HMDs) such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR, among others.

The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology at UC San Diego (Calit2), now known as the Qualcomm Institute (QI), is celebrating its 15th anniversary.  Chancellor Khosla and dignitaries including former Governor Gray Davis, Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm Co-Founder and former Chairman Irvine Jacobs and UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering Dean Pisano, united for a reception and showcase of QI innovation.  At the event, Davis and Calit2 Director Larry Smarr discussed the past and future of the Qualcomm Institute, with particular emphasis on the groundbreaking potential of the Pacific Research Platform (PRP) – a new National Science Foundation grant that uses fiber-optic networks to connect researchers at universities throughout the West Coast, enabling them to share “big data” at an unprecedented speed. One of the proof-of-principle, cyber-infrastructure sites for PRP that is already fully operational is CHEI’s WAVElab, hosting the Wide-Angle Virtual Environment (WAVE), a one-of-a-kind testbed for BIG-VR.

During the event, Professor Kuester presented a lightning talk about CISA3’s transformative impact and CHEI’s disruptive and synergistic work across Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, as well as Music (STEAM). Following the vision of CHEI’s integrative, cultural heritage engineering methodology, the talk outlines a closed-loop, data acquisition, curation, analytics and dissemination approach, highlighting what is possible when you are an innovator and producer of technology, rather than just a consumer. As always though, our students and trainees were the true stars of this presentation.

The visual documentation of seafloor habitats is playing an increasing important role in understanding habitats like coral reefs. Our new collaboration with the Sandin Lab at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography is focusing on developing a pipeline to automate the data collection and annotation of large swaths of coral reefs. Our invited paper at this years International Conference on Underwater Networks and Systemsdiscusses the issues related to collecting this data, the challenges with processing the data, and the potential to automate the process through computer vision and robotic systems.

The Triton Magazine covered our robobtics (drones) research and development in a recent article titled Life Among the Drones. The article highlights CHEI and Engineers for Exploration (E4E) alumni Radley Angelo’s experiences in developing some of our early drone platforms and covers recent work at the Maya archaeological site El Zotz in Guatemala. Current CHEI and E4E undergraduate Dominique Meyer also provides his thoughts about the direction of drone technology.

UCSD’s Strategic Vision identifies four research focus themes that serve as enablers and drivers for a student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented public university of the future. These focus themes include (1) Understanding and Protecting the Planet, (2) Enriching Human Life and Society, (3) Exploring the Basis of Human Knowledge, Learning and Creativity and (4) Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society.

To support these research priorities UCSD created the Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program (FISP).  This program is aimed at building the interdisciplinary expertise necessary to address society’s greatest challenges and forge new intellectual enterprises, which increasingly rely on the ability to work across diverse disciplines, either individually or as members of multidisciplinary teams. In the words of UCSD’s Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, “The Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program builds the interdisciplinary expertise we will need to address national and global challenges.”

With great pride, we announce that six of our CHEI emerging innovators were selected to join the inaugural student cohort of the Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program. While being the lead on their respective core research projects, our FISP scholars closely collaborate with each other, bringing talent from Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Structural Engineering and Physics into the mix. Please join us in congratulating:

Sebastian C Afshari
“HeliDrone: An Autonomous Helicopter Platfrom for Remote Imaging”

Miguel Antonino Cruz de Villa
“ParaDrone: An Autonomous Paraglider Platform for Remote Imaging”

Ian Dickerson
“3D Printable Structures”

Dominique Meyer
“Identifying Maya Pyramids with Aerial LIDAR”

Dimitri Schreiber
“CAVEcam-X: A Robotic Spherical, Stereo Imaging Platform”

Sabrina Trinh
“2D & 3D Modeling of Historic Sites from Image Data”

UCSD composer offers new work in ArtPower Filmatic Festival program

By James Chute | 8:27 p.m. May 2, 2015 | Updated, 1:27 p.m. | May 7, 2015, San Diego Union Tribune

Imagine if you could hear a painting. Not in your mind, but physically hear the sounds a painting might make. Composer Lei Liang is working on that, with a team of collaborators at UC San Diego.

Liang, who was one of the three finalists for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize in music (for “Xiaoxiang,” a concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra), is composer-in-residence at UC San Diego’s CALIT2 (California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology).

Saturday, as part of ArtPower’s Filmatic Festival at UC San Diego, Liang reprised “Hearing Landscapes,” a cutting-edge, multimedia presentation that he premiered at the Qualcomm Institute in April.

The project also involves visual explorer Falko Kuester, principal collaborator and audio software developer Zachary Seldess, cultural heritage engineer Samantha Stout, and software and system developers Greg Surges, Chris McFarland and Eric Hamdan. It aims to take the ink brush paintings of 20th century Chinese artist Huang Binhong, extract detailed information from the paintings through advanced scanning techniques, and translate that “big data” into music.

+ Read the full article at the San Diego Union Tribune

At this year’s Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) Conference – held March 29 to April 3 in Siena, Italy – UC San Diego graduate students Christine Wittich and Samantha Stout as well as Special Projects Coordinator Dominique Rissolo presented on three distinct topics, with Rissolo sharing the team’s research on underwater structure-from-motion (SfM) image acquisition and processing in a session entitled “Digital Frontiers in Maritime Archaeology.” Then at the 80th annual meeting of the Society of American Archaeology (SAA), 11 participating students, faculty and associates in CISA3 were represented at the April 15-19 conference in San Francisco. Graduate student Dominique Meyer, along with CISA3 Director Falko Kuester and Eric Lo, took the lead on a well-received paper in a first-ever SAA session on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for archaeological survey and recording. The special session was co-organized by CISA3’s Dominique Rissolo. Then a week later, at TECHNART 2015 in Catania, Italy, from April 27 to 30, CISA3’s Samantha Stout participated in three sessions of the conference on non-destructive and microanalytical techniques in art and cultural heritage.

+ Read the full news release

The day may be coming when a swarm of tiny flying robots will appear at your door if you dial 911 for help. “Robots can be there in a matter of seconds and provide police with the information they need when they respond,” said Vijay Kumar, a researcher who is developing such robots at the University of Pennsylvania. He tossed out this little mind grenade on Friday at UC San Diego, where some of the nation’s top scientists met to discuss the potential of robotics. The futuristic, but not too futuristic, topics ranged from self-driving cars to drones that check moisture levels in crops to robots that help older people cook, clean and fluff the laundry. The University of California San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering held the public symposium as part of a formal announcement that it’s investing big in robotics. Its plans include hiring five robotics professors during the next two years, plus expanding research in that field from $800,000 to between $6 million and $8 million annually. UCSD Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla has been working with Qualcomm chief technology officer Matt Grob, who playfully flew a palm-sized quadrotor robot above the speakers’ stage during the symposium. Grob asked the 250 attendees to think of small, light, easily programmable drones that shadow skiiers, videotaping their trip down the slopes. “(The robot) sends you the link (to the video) and you’re done,” Grob said. “That’s actually possible.” The smartphone revolution is driving such ideas.

+ Read the full news release