In the News

June 19, 2018

Novel Drone and Practical Augmented Reality App Win Beall and Butterworth Competitions

Since 2003, students from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) have been teaming up with their UCI peers to enter their innovative products in the Butterworth Product Development Competition. Sponsored by UCI alumnus Paul Butterworth, the competition encourages the creation of new technologies with the potential for commercialization and is open to all UCI students — as long as at least one team member is from the School of ICS.

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering launched a similar program in 2014, the Beall Student Design Competition, sponsored by Donald R. Beall and The Beall Family Foundation that requires at least one team member from the School of Engineering.

For the past five years, the two complementary competitions have been held together, and 2018 was no different — but there were still sizeable differences this year.

As ICS Dean Marios Papaefthymiou noted before announcing the winners, “the checks this year are bigger than last year — and not just physically.” Both competitions upped the ante from 2017, raising the cash award for the top three winners to $3,500, $6,500 and $10,000, respectively. In addition, more students entered and more made it to the finals, leading to a steeper competition. So a lot was at stake when, after a full day of presentations before a panel of judges, the winners were finally announced.

Butterworth Product Development Competition
Coming in third place for the Butterworth Product Development Competition was Breakdown, a web application developed by Ryan Oillataguerre and Brodric Cormie that acts as a centralized place for a political information. After logging on to the site, users can input their stances on a few key political issues to see how much they agree with their current representatives and, during campaign seasons, the different candidates for Congress and Senate.

Coming in second place was CrewView, a cross-platform AR/VR application that improves how creative teams view, communicate and collaborate during design and production processes in the entertainment industry. The CrewView team members include Ke Jing, Christopher Ayuso, Max Collins, Melisse Yutuc, Aparajita Marathe, Fernando Penaloza, Tyler Scrivner and Hannah Tran.

When the first place check for $10,000 was awarded to Zoot, an augmented reality application that helps users locate lost belongings, the team could hardly believe it.

“We were frozen,” says informatics major Ting-Wei Lin and Zarina Bahadur. “It took a second for us to process. Even now, it still feels unreal.” Joined by Roger Dalke, a last-minute addition to the team who helped with the coding, the team was incredibly happy that their hard work had paid off.

Zoot team members accept their first-place check for $10,000. From left: Roger Dalke, Zarina Bahadur, ICS Dean Marios Papaefthymiou and Ting-Wei Lin.

What started out as Bahadur’s vision of helping drivers find their parked cars morphed into an augmented reality prototype that offers users an immersive journey to find any lost item capable of transmitting its geolocation. According to Lin, who focused on Zoot’s design and development, what sets this product apart is its level of interaction. “To ensure a certain level of satisfaction throughout the entire user experience,” he explains, “we carefully crafted the UI and interactions from start to finish.” The idea was to literally show people where their items are, so once the Zoot app locates a lost item, the augmented reality feature takes over. It gives the user an approximate range for the lost item, such as in a specific room or multi-level office building. Zoot can then further help users by asking questions such as whether a specific area has already been searched.

“Moreover, Zoot does not constrain itself to be a product-finding app,” adds Bahadur, who is in charge of Zoot’s marketing and public relations. “It could even be used in enterprise venues such as theme parks and schools to help people find their children or lost items.”

The team now plans to invest their winnings in the necessary hardware and software while also setting aside some funds to apply for a patent. “Ideally, we want to build a team of talented software engineers to develop the minimum viable product this summer,” says Bahadur, “while exploring the limitless possibilities of augmented reality.”

Beall Student Design Competition
Engineering Dean Gregory Washington announced the winners of the Beall Student Design Competition, starting with third-place winner Mechanodontics, which was developed by Zahra Mardy, Mahdi Abbaspour, James Wratten and Mehdi Roein-Peikar. The proposed customized braces aim to reduce treatment time, pain and number of visits to the clinician while also increasing oral hygiene.

Second place went to HUMBLE Technologies team members Bien Gutierrez, Wendy Nguyen, Jonathan Enriquez, Xiantong Yang, Chad Bishop and Krissa Tassin for their HUMBLE syringe, which removes the need for old syringe priming methods. The new syringe reduces medical errors by cutting the amount of misdosage cases.

Coming in first place was Patrick Zhu, Nathan Cabezut and Bao Pham for their Flapping Wing Manned Aerial Vehicle. The FWMAV is a non-invasive drone that replaces each of the four traditional propellers of a quadcopter with a pair of mechanical wings. Using the phenomenon of vibrational stability that occurs in birds and other flying winged organisms to self-stabilize without heavily relying on feedback loops, the FWMAV has a significant maneuverability advantage over traditional quadcopter drones.

FWMAV team members accept their first-place check for $10,000. From left: Engineering Dean Gregory Washington, Patrick Zhu and Nathan Cabezut (not pictured, team member Bao Pham).

After thanking the participants, judges and sponsors, Dean Washington highlighted the growing need for such competitions in today’s ultracompetitive environment. “These competitions are extraordinarily important because of one big reason. When I graduated, there was 1.15 jobs for every engineer that graduated. Today, there is one job for every five engineers graduating, globally. So you may have to create your own opportunity upon graduation,” he explained. “From the projects that I’ve seen,” he added, “many of you are well on your way to doing that.”

Shani Murray
Novel Drone and Practical Augmented Reality App Win Beall and Butterworth Competitions

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