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Galileo, Makey Makey exhibited

Students attend game conference, present projects

By Christian Urrutia, photo editor
On April 8, 2014

  • Zhiyao Tu of Hang Zhou, China, plays a game using a Makey Makey invention kit device overseen by Intel’s Software and Services Manager Jay Gilbert during the Game Developer’s Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco held from March 17-21. The Makey Makey setup was part of a booth that featured Intel’s Galileo board run by Contra Costa College students during the event. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate
  • Task leader for NASA’s jet propulsion lab Victor Luo showcases a Oculus Rift device from Prio Virtual Reality during the Game Developer’s Conference held from March 17-21 at San Francisco’s Moscone Center. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

SAN FRANCISCO - For those devoted to any and every type of video game, one event serves as a Mecca for aspiring and current industry professionals.
The Game Developers Conference was held this year in San Francisco's Moscone Center during the week of March 17-21 and catered to those interested in propagating the possibilities of gaming.
One group of students had a unique privilege of showcasing a product from Intel during the conference that allows for user customization, while also explaining how exactly the technology works.
These students are Contra Costa College computer science majors, hand-picked by high performance computing and computer sciences professor Thomas Murphy, who participated in Intel's Transforming the Game booth.
During the prior weekend, this same group split into two teams that each created a game using a small circuit board called a micro controller.
This micro controller board, named Galileo, has a 32-bit Intel Pentium-class system processor and works as an open-source electronics platform, meaning it can provide a way to construct and program electronic components.
The programming language that is being used to run these boards is called Arduino and the Galileo development board is the first product from Intel that is compatible with both Arduino software and hardware.
Both teams created wearable computing games, along with computer science students from UC Berkeley during an Intel-sponsored makeathon that took place before GDC started, CCC student Tommy Bolling said.
The computer science major said that the makeathon in essence, is exactly like a hackathon, a competition where students are given a period of time, usually 24 hours, to work together and solve a programming problem. Except this time, the challenge was to create a wearable game using the Galileo boards.
"We met at the tech shop (in San Francisco) and basically worked on it all weekend. There was a lot of troubleshooting, and a lot of bashing our heads against the wall," Bolling said. "Most of the hackathons we are always programming, so it was a nice change."
One of the games crafted utilized gardener gloves to play a version of rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock and was presented in front of an audience on March 19, while the other was shown March 20.
Student Victor Leung said, "(Thursday) we presented drum pants which had sensors on the thighs of the users wearing them so we would hit the sensors with plastic swords in a live action role playing game (LARP) scenario. Our goal was to create the (idea) that wearable computing is a good idea, that these devices can become the norm of the future."
From March 19-21, Leung, Bolling and several other students hosted one of the numerous booths located in a large area of space Intel was occupying.
Their booth came with a laptop that was advertising a Makey Makey device, an Arduino based invention kit that can connect to most objects using alligator clips and connector wires and turns it into a computer key.
"Intel wanted to show (the Makey Makey) off and the Galileo board, but we ended up focusing more on the Galileo board," Leung said.
Intel Software and Services Group Events Manager Jay Gilbert said that the company only invites companies with which it has a partnership, like Lenovo or Dell and cellphone manufacturers to share the floor and that any other exceptions are a rarity.
"We loved having them (CCC students) and they did a great job demonstrating the Galileo board and were able to be creative with it," Gilbert said.
He said they added value to the technological ecosystem he felt was present within the event surrounded by the latest and greatest PC and mobile gaming software and devices. He plans to invite them back to September's Intel Developer Forum, adding that no other school, including UC Berkeley, had the same strong relationship with the students there than CCC did.
"The group I interacted with was the coders and they were very competent and understanding of the materials," he said. "They grasped the sophisticated concepts that are not trivial and mastered those concepts."
Leung said how surprised he was at how virtual reality computing is slowly turning science fiction into a reality.
He noted how Google Glasses, a form of an augmented reality device, is wearable computing already in effect.

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