Santa Clara University

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Redesigning 3D Gaming

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Caption: Ryan Shin and Eric Rahman at work on their Senior Design project. Credit: Eric Rahman

In the virtual world, eye strain, motion sickness, and blurred vision can make the 3D stereoscopic experience a real headache for gamers—one that computer engineering seniors Eric Rahman and Ryan Shin (electrical engineering double major) are alleviating with their computer middleware.

“The current problem with 3D,” said Rahman, “is that the rendering makes it difficult for the user to focus on individual elements. To solve this problem, the program needs to know in advance what the user will be looking at. The game tells our middleware what’s in the scene, and we deduce what the player is looking at. It’s basically like a Google search within the scene: the user is probably looking at one of the more ‘popular’ results in the scene.” Using a commercial grade EEG device, keyboard, and mouse, the pair finds patterns formed by brainwaves during play that can be programmatically identified; next they look at user input to see what the user is actually doing as these patterns are being formed “Merging the two is important because brain patterns alone can render false positives, as can user input by itself. By combining the analyses we are a lot more certain of what the user is trying to do; we call that a Brainwave Fingerprint,” Rahman explained.

Since beginning work on their capstone project last summer, the undergraduates have reached out for help from friends and mentors at Silicon Valley neighbors Cryptic Studios and NVIDIA. They hope to return the favor with a product that will open the market to more users which, in turn, could drive down the cost for 3D gaming systems.

After graduation, Shin will start work at Amazon.com in their web services cloud computing division. Rahman wants to take on “the deepest, most exciting problems in game programming. At Santa Clara,” he said, “we talk about the three Cs of Jesuit education—competence, conscience, and compassion—but I would like to see a fourth C added—courage. I want to jump into my career taking risks, tackling problems outside my comfort zone. That’s the engineering spirit.”