Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What Can You do with Calculus? Check this Out

What can you do with calculus?
Benjamin Moore, a student studying electrical engineering, created an augmented reality sandbox as part of his capstone project for his Calculus Analytic Geometry III class taught by associate professor Mary Yarbrough. The project was more than just a cool demonstration of what you can do when you combine math, computer programming and topography. Moore was demonstrating what he has learned during his time at Vol State.
The sandbox utilizes a projector and an Xbox 360 Kinect, a motion sensing controller, to create a topographic map based on the sand inside the box.
"When you move the sand around it'll change the elevation lines and colors of the lines using the Kinect. If you make it really low, the map will even change into water, because it has some fluid physics code as well," Moore said.
The entire system Moore designed runs on the Linux operating system. It is based on plans Moore found online, but since the code itself wasn't that detailed, Moore had to rely on his calculus knowledge to make the augmented reality sandbox work.
"The Kinect makes a base plane when it scans an empty sandbox and it gets the equation from that. Calculus is all about vectors and planes, and I used those calculations to create new planes based on where the sand is at," he said.
Students in the class watched as the machine scanned the box and then they had fun checking out the final results of the project: seeing how the computer built an image of the sand and even hands rearranging the sand in realtime.
So, that's one thing you can do with calculus. Students demonstrated several other projects they put together for the class, showing the practical applications of math. So, pre-calc students...keep going, you can be there soon enough.

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