Focus on Students

Omni-Present Environment Device enhances video chat technology


Randy Wyatt and Carole Pelletier were looking for a better user experience for video chats. Rather than holding your phone in front of you for thirty minutes and staring the other person straight in the eye, wouldn’t it be better if a device existed that would hold your phone and mimic the reaction you have when you are in a conversation with someone. Your phone would hear the voice of the other speaker, turn towards the voice, and look at the speaker. This was the idea behind a project that Randy and Carole proposed to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as a potential capstone project.

Team members Mishaal Abaalkhail, Ahmed Alyousef and Jawad Khan took on the challenge. They divided the project into three main components: hearing by using four microphones, seeing by using a camera, and moving by using two servo motors.

The project was very complex for a team of three with limited time and resources. One particular challenge was to be able to localize the speaker accurately and reliably using only microphones. There was no available technology, within the scope of the team’s expertise that could precisely locate the position of the audio source. Therefore, the team developed their own method by comparing the intensity of the audio signals acquired by each microphone.

Randy and Carole say that the students did a remarkable job of solving the problem in a very practical and feasible way. They actually completed a working prototype to demonstrate their design’s utility. The design was readily patentable. Overall the experience of working with the students at Dalhousie was beneficial in a practical way and rewarding and fun at an interpersonal level. It was great to work with such bright and enthusiastic people.

For more information on the Capstone Program at Dalhousie Engineering, click here.


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