Undergrad Game Design Program Rated in Top 50

UT Dallas students study game design in the University’s innovative Arts and Technology program.

The University of Texas at Dallas has been included in Princeton Review’s list of the “Top 50 Undergraduate Game Design Programs,” based on a survey of administrators at the roughly 500 institutions where students can study game design in the U.S. and Canada.

UT Dallas made the list for its innovative Arts and Technology (ATEC) program.

Says Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, “I am particularly pleased by this recognition of one aspect of our comprehensive program: exploring the philosophic and practical implications of digital technology for human life and culture. We emphasize and plan to be an international leader in the development of  ‘tough content’ games for education.”

UT Dallas is in good company, as other schools in the top 50 include Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dartmouth College. The complete list of winners will be featured in the April issue of GamePro magazine.

Robert Franek, senior vice-president of Princeton Review, says, “We evaluated their programs based on several criteria including the quality of the curriculum, faculty, facilities and infrastructure, as well as scholarships, financial aid and career opportunities.”

ATEC alumni have worked an interned at such major creative companies as  Dreamworks and Gearbox Software and educational game companies such as iStation and Blizzard Entertainment.

UT Dallas Mobile Creation Piques Curiosity at SXSW

A social media platform for mobile devices created by Emerging Media and Communication (EMAC) students is creating buzz at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference in Austin.

Placethings is one of 32 finalists in the second annual Accelerator Competition at SXSW Interactive, which has become the world’s premier emerging technology event.

Placethings beat out hundreds of other companies to become a finalist. Its EMAC student creators will present before a live audience and panel of judges at SXSW on March 15 at the Hilton Austin.

“Placethings creates personal, shareable layers of media on top of real-world locations, connecting places with stories,” according to Dean Terry, director of the UT Dallas EMAC program.  “Tell people about your trip, guide them through a city, tell stories about where you’ve been, what happened, and what is important with video, pictures, sound, and beautiful, shareable maps.”

Placethings was developed in EMAC’s MobileLab research group under Terry’s direction.  It was co-created by Terry, undergraduate Arts and Technology student Nicholas Spencer and EMAC graduate student John Syrinek.

Recognition Technology to Transform Mobile Devices

Research Aims to Further Expand Connections Between Real and Virtual Worlds

UT Dallas researchers are working with Texas Instruments Inc. and GetFugu Inc. to enable next-generation human-device interaction (HDI) technologies that merge a physical, real-world environment with virtual, computer-generated imagery on mobile devices.

EMAC students Kate Aronson and John Syrinek check out a Texas Instruments OMAP processor development board.

The $100,000 project brings together TI’s OMAP processor and WiLink connectivity technology with GetFugu’s search tool and innovative work by researchers in the UT Dallas MobileLab.

When it’s all combined, users will gain quick access to information, seamless connections and vivid multimedia experiences, providing them with information about the world around them instantaneously.

Practically speaking, that means object-recognition technology that allows you to snap a picture of a company logo with a smartphone camera and instantly receive company information via the phone’s Internet connection – all because the smartphone identified the logo and searched for relevant information. It means taking a picture of an ad for a band and immediately obtaining the band’s latest tour dates and ticket information.

TI introduced the idea of next-generation human-device interaction at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2010 in February.

While HDI is just starting to emerge in commercial applications, GetFugu has been in the field for more than two years. By integrating mobile phones’ core strengths into a single search tool, GetFugu provides user-friendly access via mobile devices to Web content previously available only on computers.

“TI is excited about the promise of HDI and how it will change the way we interact with our mobile devices,” said Leo Estevez, technology strategist for TI’s wireless business unit. “Our applications processors and connectivity solutions provide the powerful technology mix that sets a foundation for these applications and offers quicker access, improved user experiences and out-of-this-world advancements. As we demonstrated during MWC in February, we truly are at the cusp of a mobile revolution.”

MobileLab researchers at UT Dallas are now testing and running these concepts on the Zoom OMAP34x-II Mobile Development Platform, which features high-performance low-power capabilities that enable easier acquisition of content, an improved search experience and enhanced voice- and visual-recognition capabilities. OMAP processors are the sophisticated chips used in many smartphones.

“Our researchers from MobileLab and the University’s electrical engineering department are excited to collaborate with TI and GetFugu not only on the compelling technology of emerging HDI, but also on the new kinds user experiences it introduces,” said MobileLab’s director, Dean Terry.

Added Rich Jenkins, GetFugu’s co-founder and business development executive: “Our applications are designed to utilize vision- and voice-recognition, bypassing the mobile device’s cumbersome keyboard to connect with the content people want quickly and conveniently. The technology, while spectacular, remains a function of the search and is almost invisible to the consumer. We expect this to proliferate among mobile users and, when combined with powerful engines from TI, bring new levels of interactivity to mobile devices.”