MAI students create a virtual universe

4 April 2017

MAI students create a virtual universe

MAI team returned with brilliant results fr om the semi-finals of Imagine Cup – the annual worldwide series of technology competitions focused around Microsoft technology held at the Russian Microsoft office. MAI’s multimedia projects impressed the panel of judges and received second and third place and moved forward to the All-Russian stage of the competition which will take place on April 15 in the largest multimedia center in Moscow, Digital October. There they will compete for the right to participate in the final of the Imagine Cup, which will be held in Seattle, USA.

 ‘Our guys will have serious competition at the All-Russian stage’, — noted in his interview with the leader and coach of MAI teams, professor of Computational mathematics and programming department, Aleksandr Popovkin. ‘Among them are teams of such universities as Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow State University, Higher School of Economics, and other.

MAI was represented by four teams – Magic Library, Tales fr om the Chest, VR-History, and Artificial Vision. The VR-History team got second place with their multimedia educational project ‘Milestones in History’. It is a kind of a 3D visualized museum of battles in Russian and world history. It will allow all the history fans to see with their own eyes the events of 100, 200 and even 300 years ago via virtual reality mode.

‘This program can become handy for students at schools and universities with history major, as well as those who love museums and historical places, and help them fully appreciate the scale of events. Besides, you can upload battles from other eras into the program’.

However, history is a science that does not tolerate free interpretations, but requires detailed and thorough study. So to answer the question of how well can students of a technical university convey all peculiarities of real historical events in a computer program, Aleksandr Popovkin replies that the program was created under close guidance of professional historians and history professors.

‘There’s no need to worry about authenticity – the images created are believable, and so is the map of battles. The work on its creation took over four months’.

Other kind of stories – children’s fairytales, were given a new life by the members of the Tales from the Chest team. Within several months they created an interactive app for kids. This is the project that took third place in the Imagine Cup semi-finals.

This program, available on a tablet or smartphone, with colorful images and texts of fairytales and various interactive features, allows children to immerse into wonderland and combine fun with learning.

‘Interactive features, funny animated characters and reader’s ability to influence the plot will capture a child’s attention for a long time and prove that learning can be fun’, - noted the developers. ‘For example, if you blow into the microphone the clouds will part. And if you shake your device, magic apples will fall from the tree!’

In the future, the team is planning to add mini-games, a narrator, and new interactive stories, to introduce a language selection option, and to create more voice control features.

The MAI Artificial Vision team presented a program for people with visual impairments. An app for Raspberry Pi 3 mini-computer takes a photo with a camera installed in person’s glasses, then that photo is uploaded into the cloud, wh ere it gets processed by cognitive services and then returns to the headset the information about who or what is in front of the person with visual impairments. The Magic Library team presented a whole online game wh ere one can imagine themselves as a magician or a traveler in space.
Daria Strunkina
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