The Ubiquitous Computing and Communication Laboratory, directed by Professor Hideyuki Tokuda, is tackling a series of cutting edge projects in “environmental computing”, aspiring to seamlessly integrate computer technologies with public works.
Their research includes the development of displays for “smart cities”, autonomous flying devices, and real-time “participatory sensing”. Last November, these projects were nominated for display at an international conference in Switzerland on Human Interfaces for Civic and Urban Engagement.
The UbiComp Lab’s latest achievement has been the “EverCopter”, a revolutionary new tethered drone that utilizes its wired connection to stay in flight indefinitely. Drones have received much media attention through their increased use by corporations and military organizations to survey and gather information. However, these drones are severely handicapped by their short battery-life that limits the time as well as the area that they can cover. Professor Tokuda’s laboratory has developed a concept that allows the deployment of survey drones over extended periods of time. By flying multiple drones at once and linking them to form a direct link to a power source, the EverCopters are able to bypass the current constraints of battery life that plague most technologies today.
Recently, the laboratory has implemented their drone designs in another proprietary invention: the mobile public display system. Pairs of EverCopters are deployed to create moving advertisements, movie clips, and information boards. Drones observe pedestrians approaching and follow them while presenting their content.
Within the pairs of EverCopters, two drones will move in tandem together; one will be equipped with a projector, the second will come with a light weight screen. The screen drones will track the movements of the projectors to move in-sync.
The Ubiquitous Computing Laboratory expects that this system will make it possible to implement advanced monitoring of crowd preferences in retail environments, as well as improve on the underlying sensor technology used in drone technology services.
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