NYC Media Lab Demo Awards: $25,000 in prizes for tech and media projects

CUNY, Columbia, Parsons, NYU projects garner awards

NYC Media Lab
6 min readSep 26, 2016

NYC Media Lab’s Annual Summit and demo showcase on Thursday, September 22nd, 2016, was host to over 140 entrepreneurs, engineers, creative technologists, product designers, data scientists and makers from New York City’s universities and beyond.

Demo participants presented their research and prototypes to a crowd of more than 1,000 participants, including thought leaders and fellow technologists from leading digital media, technology, and communications companies.

$25,000 in prizes was awarded by the NYC Media Lab to projects that represent the creativity, technical depth and potential impact of the ideas emerging from faculty and students across NYC universities.

“It’s very difficult to pick winners in a demo pool as broad and deep as this one,” said Justin Hendrix, Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. “These prizes are intended as a gesture of support for the teams that shared their work at the Summit, and as encouragement for the continued development of their projects, prototypes and research.”

Grand Prize: $10,000

The Picat Language and its Application to Games and AI Problems: CUNY Brooklyn College

Picat is a simple, and yet powerful, logic-based multi-paradigm programming language aimed for general-purpose applications. Picat incorporates many declarative language features for better productivity of software development, including explicit non-determinism, explicit unification, functions, list comprehensions, constraints, and tabling. Picat also provides imperative language constructs, such as assignments and loops, for programming everyday things. Picat provides facilities for solving combinatorial search problems, including a common interface with CP, SAT, and MIP solvers, tabling for dynamic programming, and a module for planning. The team’s demo at NYCML’16 showed several applications of Picat to games and AI problems. Team members from CUNY’s Brooklyn College included Neng-Fa Zhou, Jonathan Fruhman, and Jie Mei.

First Prize: $5,000

Surface Tensions: Parsons School of Design

Surface Tensions is an interactive narrative installation where users influence the dinner conversation of an unseen couple by sitting in the chairs and picking up items on the table. As the story unfolds, tensions between the couple are manipulated by the user’s interaction with objects in the space, creating a unique performance between system and user. This installation merges sensor data, scripted language and system logic to achieve a responsive and unique theatrical experience. The project was created by Rosalind Paradis, a 2016 graduate of the MFA Design & Technology program at Parsons School of Design.

Second Prize: Two awards of $2,000

Combating VR Sickness Through Subtle Dynamic Field of View Modification: Columbia University

A demonstration of how VR sickness can be decreased when wearing a head-worn display by subtle, automated control of a user’s field of view.
Team members from the Columbia University Computer Graphics and User Interfaces Lab include Steven Feiner, Ajoy Fernandes, and Hiroshi Furuya.

Bridging the Empathy Gap Between Web Developers and Users: NYU Tandon School of Engineering

This project is a tool for developers to experience web services on network conditions representative of real US households, who may not have the fastest broadband. The goal is to help users design websites that work under such conditions. Team members include Fraida Fund and Caleb Smith-Salzberg.

Third Prize: Three Awards of $1,000

URU: Cornell Tech

A startup founded by three Cornell Tech students, URU aims to create less obtrusive native video advertising. Using computer vision to find surfaces and spaces inside of a video, Uru blends advertisements onto them digitally. Picture a popular YouTuber sharing their latest video: Uru’s algorithms will find a wall, a table, or the sky in that video and overlay brand advertising, leaving the overall video experience uninterrupted. Team members include Bill Marino and Brunno Attorre.

Wikkit: Retail Analytics Solution: NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Wikkit is a machine learning, cloud computing and computer vision based service targeting client management for retail business. Developed by graduate students, the project depicts the entire framework for data collection, customer recognition and data analysis for a retail business. Team members include Yuanyi Xue, Yilin Song, and Xiaoran Ning.

RioBusData: NYU Tandon School of Engineering

RioBusData helps users explore outlier trajectories in the bus system of Rio de Janeiro. The demo is still being polished/under development. It provides a set of views that allows users explore outliers in the bus data. The design follows Shneiderman’s mantra: overview first, zoom and filter, then details-on-demand. When users start interacting with RioBusData, they see all detected outliers highlighted in a bus line chart, a calendar, an hour chart, and a map on which buses’ locations are plotted. Team members include Aline Bessa, Juliana Freire, Fernando Silva, Rodrigo Nogueira, and Enrico Bertini.

Honorable Mentions: 6 awards of $500

PathChartr: Digital Decision-Maker and Empathy Generator: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

PathChartr is a personalized interactive showing tough choices facing Syrian refugees in US. The demo explores the potential of PathChartr as a decision-making and empathy generating tool for news consumers. Team members include CUNY Graduate School of Journalism faculty members Sandeep Junnarkar and Jere Hester.

Double-Talk: Full-Duplex Wireless for Next-Generation Communications: Columbia University

Double-Talk demonstrates practical full-duplex radios enabling concurrent transmission and reception on the same frequency channel for future wireless communications. Demo participants observed (1) the transmitted and received signal at each radio of the full-duplex wireless link in both time and frequency domains, (2) the level of self-interference cancellation after RF and digital domains, respectively, and (3) the detected useful signal from the other full-duplex radio. Team members include Tingjun Chen, Jin Zhou, Jelena Marasevic, Harish Krishnaswamy, and Gil Zussman.

Debate in (E)motion: Columbia University

This project dissects facial expressions and sentiment of people in videos. With Debate in (E)motion users can go back and forth in a video and see the facial analysis of whoever is in that instance, in addition to natural language processing of the transcribed text. Team members include Carlos Espino Garcia, Diego Miguel Llarrull, Xavier Gonzalez and Amirhossein Imani.

Scopio: Columbia University

Scopio is an image search engine and licensing platform for trending photos and videos on social media. Scopio lets the user build curated UGC libraries and request images through customizable messages and search any image related to an event or campaign. Team members include Nour Chamoun, Manoj Pooleery and Christina Hawatmeh.

3D Task Assistance using a Lightweight Head-Worn Display: Columbia University

3D Task Assistance creates interactive visualizations for guiding a user in rotating a 3D object using monocular eyewear, featuring an efficient new technique. Team members include Mengu Sukan, Carmine Elvezio, Steven Feiner and Barbara Tversky.

Vector Scan (Visual Detection of Mosquito Breeding Grounds): Columbia University

This is a visual identification system for potential Mosquito breeding ground detection, focused on the Zika Virus particularly. The system uses a cloud based server solution. The front end interfaces are an Android phone, an iPad and a computer. The team at Columbia includes Maanit Mehra, Palash Matey, and Shikhar Kwatra.

For more information regarding the #NYCML16 program, contact:
Alexis Avedisian, Communications Manager, NYC Media Lab / @nycmedialab / @holyurl



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