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Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Training Grant | Award Amount: 4.57M | Year: 2014

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Digital Entertainment University of Bath and Bournemouth University The Centre for Digital Entertainment (CDE) supports innovative research projects in digital media for the games, animation, visual effects, simulation, cultural and healthcare industries. Being an Industrial Doctorate Centre, CDEs students spend one year being trained at the university and then complete three years of research embedded in a company. To reflect the practical nature of their research they submit for an Engineering Doctorate degree. Digital media companies are major contributors to the UK economy. They are highly-respected internationally and find their services in great demand. To meet this demand they need to employ people with the highest technical skills and the imagination to use those skills to a practical end. The sector has become so successful that the shortage of such people now constrains them from expanding further. Our Doctoral Training Centre is already addressing that and has become the national focus for this kind of training. We do this by combining core taught material with an exciting and unusual range of activities designed to challenge and extend the students knowledge beyond the usual boundaries. By working closely with companies we can offer practical challenges which really push the limits of what can be done with digital media and devices, and by the people using them. We work with many companies and 40-50 students at any one time. As a result we are able to support the group in ways which would not be possible for individual students. We can place several students in one company, we can send teams to compete in programming competitions, and we can send groups to international training sessions. This proposal is to extend and expand this successful Centre. Major enhancements will include use of internationally leading industry experts to teach Master Classes, closer cooperation between company and university researchers, business training led by businesses and options for international placements in an international industry. We will replace the entire first year teaching with a Digital Media programme specifically aimed at these students as a group. The graduates from this Centre will be the technical leaders of the next generation revolution in this fast-moving, demanding and exciting industry.

News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.technologyreview.com

The Rise of DIY Autonomous Cars If a Tesla's too expensive, why not fit self-driving capabilities to your own car. Our own Tom Simonite reports that some people are starting to use off-the-shelf components and open source software to imbue their vehicles with Autopilot-like features. The mods are based on plans made available by autonomy start-up Comma.ai, which released code after its technology, intended for sale, was questioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There appears to be little stopping consumers from making such tweaks to their vehicles—other than their own limits on personal safety. Do you need The Download? Sign up here to get it for free in your inbox Quantum Computers Go Head-to-Head A quantum computer duel signals that the technology is maturing. Devices made by researchers from IBM and the University of Maryland in College Park using different approaches have been challenged to run a set of algorithms head-to-head—the former was faster, the latter more reliable. In the past, quantum computers have been pitted against regular hardware, rather than quantum rivals. As Sciencenotes, the new results are less exciting than their symbolism, as the ability to perform such a test suggests that quantum computing is coming of age. An Audacious Climate Science Cruise To understand the impact of global warming, get a ship stuck in ice. A team of climate scientists has a brave new plan: sail the 120 meter-long Polarstern research ship into the sea-ice of the East Siberian Sea, where it will become embedded and be slowly drawn across the Arctic, passing right over the North Pole. Along the way, researchers will perform experiments—analyzing water, ice, air, and weather—to understand more about the region's rapidly changing conditions. The voyage is scheduled for 2019. Good news for millennials and life-loggers: after months of retailing from a handful of vending machines, you can now buy Snap’s smart glasses online. A possible climate policy shift under the current administration could scrap Obama-era regulations but introduce a carbon tax. Should liberals embrace the idea? The Mojave desert has become the Silicon Valley of space startups. Optogenetics, which controls gene function with bursts of light, usually requires at least three surgeries to implement in a living creature. Not any more. Disney Research has outlined a compelling plan for providing wireless power throughout an entire room. With shifting immigration policies in the U.S., the makers of prison, detention, and tracking tech are bracing for a boom. How 3-D printing is taking prosthetics to people that would otherwise go without. In Chile, less than 10 percent of garbage gets recycled. Now, an Uber-like app links refuse collectors with waste-makers to change that.  According to CNN, Donald Trump has bought up 3,643 domains to protect his various business dealings from digital slurs. A Russian-made hover bike is real, impressive—and incredibly dangerous-looking. "Virtual reality is very powerful. But the amount of information is going to be so vast, we’re going to need new ways of interacting with [it].” — Garry Nolan, a molecular biologist at Stanford University, explains that the surfeit of data produced by mapping every cell in the human body will demand some impressive new visualization tricks.

News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

Disney Research is taking wireless charging to a whole new level. The scientific and tech arm of the entertainment giant has built a prototype room with "ubiquitous wireless power delivery" that allows several devices to be charged wirelessly in much the way we get internet access through Wi-Fi. By tapping quasistatic cavity resonance, researchers discovered they could generate magnetic fields inside specially built structures to deliver kilowatts of power to mobile devices inside that structure. "This new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as WiFi," Alanson Sample, associate lab director & principal research scientist at Disney Research, told Phys.org. "This in turn could enable new applications for robots and other small mobile devices by eliminating the need to replace batteries and wires for charging." Historically, mobile-device owners have been forced to plug their products into a charger to refresh a battery. Wireless charging, however, ditches the cord and allows users to simply rest their device atop a charging pad to add juice. Disney's approach eliminates the need to be on that pad. All you have to do is be in the room and your device will start charging automatically. And depending on where you are in the room, delivery efficiency can be as high as 95 percent, researchers said. There is one potential issue: you have to not mind being in a room constructed mostly of aluminum, that includes the walls, ceiling and floor. There's a copper pole in the middle of the room, and 15 discrete high quality factor capacitors that separate the magnetic field from the electric field. No word on when you can expect to get one of these metal boxes for your home. Virtual reality 101: CNET tells you everything you need to know about what VR is and how it'll affect your life. Batteries Not Included: The CNET team shares experiences that remind us why tech stuff is cool.

Raptis M.,Disney Research | Sigal L.,Disney Research
Proceedings of the IEEE Computer Society Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition | Year: 2013

In this paper, we develop a new model for recognizing human actions. An action is modeled as a very sparse sequence of temporally local discriminative key frames - collections of partial key-poses of the actor(s), depicting key states in the action sequence. We cast the learning of key frames in a max-margin discriminative framework, where we treat key frames as latent variables. This allows us to (jointly) learn a set of most discriminative key frames while also learning the local temporal context between them. Key frames are encoded using a spatially-localizable pose let-like representation with HoG and BoW components learned from weak annotations, we rely on structured SVM formulation to align our components and mine for hard negatives to boost localization performance. This results in a model that supports spatio-temporal localization and is insensitive to dropped frames or partial observations. We show classification performance that is competitive with the state of the art on the benchmark UT-Interaction dataset and illustrate that our model outperforms prior methods in an on-line streaming setting. © 2013 IEEE.

Smolic A.,Disney Research
Pattern Recognition | Year: 2011

This paper gives an end-to-end overview of 3D video and free viewpoint video, which can be regarded as advanced functionalities that expand the capabilities of a 2D video. Free viewpoint video can be understood as the functionality to freely navigate within real world visual scenes, as it is known for instance from virtual worlds in computer graphics. 3D video shall be understood as the functionality that provides the user with a 3D depth impression of the observed scene, which is also known as stereo video. In that sense as functionalities, 3D video and free viewpoint video are not mutually exclusive but can very well be combined in a single system. Research in this area combines computer graphics, computer vision and visual communications. It spans the whole media processing chain from capture to display and the design of systems has to take all parts into account, which is outlined in different sections of this paper giving an end-to-end view and mapping of this broad area. The conclusion is that the necessary technology including standard media formats for 3D video and free viewpoint video is available or will be available in the future, and that there is a clear demand from industry and user for such advanced types of visual media. As a consequence we are witnessing these days how such technology enters our everyday life © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Zheng Y.,Disney Research
IEEE Transactions on Robotics | Year: 2013

This paper presents an efficient algorithm to compute the minimum of the largest wrenches that a grasp can resist over all wrench directions with limited contact forces, which equals the minimum distance from the origin of the wrench space to the boundary of a grasp wrench set. This value has been used as an important grasp quality measure in optimal grasp planning for over two decades, but there has been no efficient way to compute it until now. The proposed algorithm starts with a polytope containing the origin in the grasp wrench set and iteratively grows it such that the minimum distance from the origin to the boundary of the polytope quickly converges to the aforementioned value. The superior efficiency and accuracy of this algorithm over the previous methods have been verified through theoretical and numerical comparisons. © 2004-2012 IEEE.

News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Wireless power has the potential of seamlessly powering up electrical devices. This propagation of electricity seems to be as easy as data being transmitted through the air. However, existing solutions are limited to near contact distances. Technology enthusiasts have been hankering for updates in wireless charging technology and will be pleased to learn that Disney's living room prototype provides just that kind of power. Disney Research, touted to deliver scientific and technological innovation, has created a prototype of a room. This prototype is capable of providing ubiquitous wireless charging to all the devices present in the room. Disney's living room system deploys an entire room's ceiling and walls with aluminum panels and a long copper pole is placed in the center of the room, containing a ring of capacitors. This distribution ensures that the room is uniformly filled with a magnetic field. The capacitors in the copper pole are connected to a single generator present outside the room and it releases a tone at a specific frequency. Researchers revealed that the system operates with a technology, called quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), capable of generating a magnetic field. A room fitted with such technology would be able to simultaneously charge several devices, such as smartphones, lamps, fans, and an RC car, regardless of their position inside the room. Moreover, with this tech in hand, one can potentially charge their devices even when they are several feet away from the charging point. This development is far superior to the wireless charging mats which are currently available in the markets. Disney Research reported that several tests were conducted with the prototype, and revealed that the technology is capable of delivering power to small coil receivers in virtually any position in the prototype room. Incidentally, the power would not be obstructed by any furniture in the room. Per the location of the object in the room, researchers estimated the efficiency level to be between 40 and 95 percent. The technology is still in the nascent stages and would need a lot of fine tuning before it can be mass produced for consumer use. The researchers have stated that it is best to remain at least 0.46 meters away from the copper pole, as the human body is not capable of absorbing harmful levels of energy. Moreover, they have to disconnect the prototype if not being used. Why? As it would be harmful to continuously use it since the power is stored in the room. Disney Research has shared that 1,900 watts is the preferable limit of power and that too if the same amount is being used by the devices in the room. Check out the video of the technology in action below. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

News Article | February 17, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

A new method developed by Disney Research for wirelessly transmitting power throughout a room enables users to charge electronic devices as seamlessly as they now connect to WiFi hotspots, eliminating the need for electrical cords or charging cradles.

News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.gizmag.com

While there's been no shortage of attempts to incorporate wireless power transmission technology into our furniture, garages and living rooms, reality has not quite caught up with the futuristic ideals of untethered wireless freedom. That said, we might be inching closer to it with Disney Research's recent demonstration of a new method for wireless power transmission that could charge your devices automatically the moment you walk into a room, making electrical cords and charging cradles a thing of the past. At present, wireless charging is stymied by two challenges: range and health concerns. Despite their reach, radiative transfer methods, which are used for radio communication, have not found much favor elsewhere due to health and safety concerns. On the other hand, while safe, non-radiative methods such as near-field coupling are highly localized and require the devices to be placed near the charging source. To circumvent these limitations, Disney Research scientists, led by associate lab director and principal research scientist Alanson Sample, turned to a method called Quasistatic Cavity Resonance (QSCR), which induces electrical currents in an enclosed metallic structure. For the purposes of this proof-of-concept, the researchers constructed a 16-by-16-foot room with aluminum walls, ceiling and floor bolted to an aluminum frame. A copper pole, with a small gap into which discrete capacitors were inserted, was placed in the center of the room. A signal generator located outside the room produces a 1.32 MHz tone, which is given a boost by a power amplifier. A coil receiver then connects this signal to the capacitors in the pole and this system enables power to be transmitted to receiving coils that operate at the same resonant frequency as the magnetic fields. By channeling the induced currents that flow through the walls, ceiling and floor in the room, the capacitors set the electromagnetic frequency of the structure and confine the electric fields, isolating potentially harmful electrical fields at the same time. On a separate note, because of the way the magnetic fields swirl around the pole, the device has to be situated perpendicularly or orthogonally to the magnetic fields to receive power. If the receiver coil is parallel to the plane, it receives no power, which defeats the idea behind this project since the point is to enable people to charge their devices anywhere in the room. To get around this issue, the researchers came up with a receiver design with three orthogonal coils so at least one of them would be able to receive power regardless of where it's located. "This new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi," says Sample, adding that it could in turn "enable new applications for robots and other small mobile devices by eliminating the need to replace batteries and wires for charging." Though the room had to be custom-built for this study, Sample believes the need for such metallic surfaces will be significantly reduced once the QSCR technology is optimized. Building owners will then be able to retrofit existing structures via modular panels or conductive paint, and in the case of larger spaces, by inserting multiple copper poles. One advantage this method is said to offer is that since the coupled resonators only share energy with devices of the same resonant frequency, these low megahertz frequency magnetic waves have little effect on common everyday materials – unlike low frequency inductive systems that result in eddy current heating – thus allowing for home and office furnishing to be included in the room. In addition, the high Q-factor and sub-wavelength operation of the QSCR room allows for the inclusion of windows and doors without any significant impact on system performance. Now for the 64,000 dollar question: will being in this room fry your brain? While the researchers ensured the study was conducted according to Federal safety guidelines, there are a few things worth pointing out. First, there is a limit to the amount of power you can pump into the room. As the authors note in their study, while it is possible to safely transmit 1.9 kilowatts of power to a receiver at 90 percent efficiency (the equivalent of charging 320 devices), due to the amount of unused power stored in the room, the appliances in the space would have to use and receive that much power. Secondly, while around 100 watts of power can be transmitted into the room safely, there would need to be a significant amount of utility taking place. For larger amounts, standard methods such as real-time power tracking can be used to ensure safe operation. Finally, as per SAR (specific absorption rate) requirements, safety strategies such as intrusion detection or a decorative wall would need to be employed to ensure that people do not venture within 46 cm of the pole. Though work on this project is still in its nascent stage, the researchers believe this form of wireless power has the potential to eliminate the need for wires and batteries by enabling users to charge their devices simply by walking into a QSCR-enabled space, thus allowing an unprecedented amount of spatial charging freedom. One interesting advantage it has over other solutions we've covered is that it can be scaled to size, depending on the application. The researchers did not mention what plans Disney has for this technology but one can imagine how it can be used in its theme parks, for starters.

News Article | February 16, 2017
Site: phys.org

The researchers demonstrated their method, called quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR), inside a specially built 16-by-16-foot room at their lab. They safely generated near-field standing magnetic waves that filled the interior of the room, making it possible to power several cellphones, fans and lights simultaneously. "This new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as WiFi," said Alanson Sample, associate lab director & principal research scientist at Disney Research. "This in turn could enable new applications for robots and other small mobile devices by eliminating the need to replace batteries and wires for charging." A research report on QSCR by the Disney Research team of Matthew J. Chabalko, Mohsen Shahmohammadi and Alanson P. Sample was published on Feb. 15, 2017 in the online journal PLOS ONE. "In this work, we've demonstrated room-scale wireless power, but there's no reason we couldn't scale this down to the size of a toy chest or up to the size of a warehouse," said Sample, who leads the lab's Wireless Systems Group. According to Sample, wireless power transmission is a long-standing technological dream. Celebrated inventor Nikola Tesla famously demonstrated a wireless lighting system in the 1890s and proposed a system for transmitting power long distances to homes and factories, though it never came to fruition. Today, most wireless power transmission occurs over very short distances, typically involving charging stands or pads. The QSCR method involves inducing electrical currents in the metalized walls, floor and ceiling of a room, which in turn generate uniform magnetic fields that permeate the room's interior. This enables power to be transmitted efficiently to receiving coils that operate at the same resonant frequency as the magnetic fields. The induced currents in the structure are channeled through discrete capacitors, which isolate potentially harmful electrical fields. "Our simulations show we can transmit 1.9 kilowatts of power while meeting federal safety guidelines," Chabalko said. "This is equivalent to simultaneously charging 320 smart phones." In the demonstration, the researchers constructed a 16-by-16-foot room with aluminum walls, ceiling and floor bolted to an aluminum frame. A copper pole was placed in the center of the room; a small gap was created in the pole, into which discrete capacitors were inserted. "It is those capacitors that set the electromagnetic frequency of the structure and confine the electric fields," Chabalko explained. Devices operating at that low megahertz frequency can receive power almost anywhere in the room. At the same time, the magnetic waves at that frequency don't interact with everyday materials, so other objects in the room are unaffected. Though the demonstration room was specially constructed, Sample said it likely will be possible to reduce the need for metalized walls, ceilings and floors in the future. It may be possible to retrofit existing structures, for instance, with modular panels or conductive paint. Larger spaces might be accommodated by using multiple copper poles. Combining creativity and innovation, this research continues Disney's rich legacy of innovation and leveraging technology to enhance the tools and systems of tomorrow. Explore further: Flying drones could soon re-charge whilst airborne with new technology More information: Matthew J. Chabalko et al, Quasistatic Cavity Resonance for Ubiquitous Wireless Power Transfer, PLOS ONE (2017). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169045

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