Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ken Perlin's Lab

I visited this awesome professor named Ken Perlin at NYU the other day. The whole 12th floor of the Gallatin building seems to be his laboratory where he has a bunch of students working on new computer and gaming technology. Perlin himself has been working in advances with technology for decades now, and he is still ahead of the curve with his ideas.

He was one of the first people to make a responsive, emotive (and believable) face on a computer screen. The demo can be seen here, though this probably won't look to amazing now considering how far with have gotten with computer graphics. Keep in mind that this technology was made in the early 1980's. To put that in perspective, Final Fantasy VII came out in 1997 and the in-game polygonal faces didn't have noses or mouths for any facial expressiveness.

That's all in the past though. What he is working on right now in NYU is a paper-thin touch pad that is multi-touch and pressure sensitive. I tried playing with it myself. The touch pad is extremely responsive and I could see the digital rendering of my pressed fingers on the computer screen. This technology will be especially useful to game designers, as they'll be quickly able to create 3D maps with their finger.

He also showed us a game where you can fly as bird. Doesn't sound that creative, until you see the controls. The controls are two handles suspended from a wire in the ceiling. By holding a handle in each hand, you have to flap your wings to go fast, and lean back and forth for altitude. In addition, the game is also connected to three fans, so the harder you flap, the faster the fans blow to simulate the wind. It's intuitive, and the weighted restriction of the wire really adds to the aerodynamics.

Lastly, I asked him after we had our class discussion if he would like to demo some of his software or hardware at one of PLAY club events. He sounded legitimately thrilled at the idea, at said he'll contact me when he has somthing he wants our gamers to beta-test.

My thoughts: Awesome!


ultima301 said...

Ken's actually my professor for my graduate class in Computer Games this semester. He's an awesome guy that really knows his stuff. If you want I'll try to relay the message about PLAY at our class tomorrow!

Lima said...

this sounds awesome! I wanna flapping controller! ^_^

Richard R. said...

Yes, please do that. At let Ken know you're part of the PLAY e-board and that you know me. This way, our club will be more on his mind in the furture when he needs beta-testers.

I read that too quickly. I though you said "fapping" controller. That would be far more hilarious.

calightning1 said...


I liked that one of your gaming club friends is in Ken's graduate class. He can help with getting your club on your radar.

Oh, his invention in making "a responsive, emotive face" is called NUANCE.


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