On Feburary 24th, 2017, me and the baby team went to Akihabara(秋葉原), the world famous anime and manga culture center in Tokyo, to exhibit the latest project of the baby team. Our team departed from our Sensei’s lab at 5 am in the morning and arrived at the exhibition hall around 9 am.
During the exhibition I was able to enjoy many different VR experiences as I was only a support member of the team and not an essential team member. Although the exhibition was only a hobbyist exhibition there exists many works of high caliber. One such high quality work is Shodo (書道)VR simulator that lets players paint beautiful calligraphy using pressure sensitive brushes. One can paint one’s own names and even draw pictures with this program.
One other VR project that impresses me a lot is a rescue the princess game which has the player fending off a grim reaper like creature while carrying the princess in his/her arms. The creature will fire various projectiles at the player and after successfully dodging a certain number of bullets the princess will bestow a magical sword upon the players so as to kill the creature with it. While the gaming concept is hardly unique and doesn’t deserve much attention from the sounds of it what amazes me the most is that although this game has no written instructions to it, the game play and in game options available to the players is easily understandable even for someone like me with limited Japanese language ability. The dodging mechanic and hit box of the player is also very well done, creating a challenging and yet very believable and beatable game experience. Nowhere during the game will you feel like you are not in control of the situation and should you get hit by the projectiles you know it is entirely your fault for not dodging well. What’s more, although the VR experience takes place is a very confined place, neither me nor any player I saw ever bumped into the walls, indicating the level of planning the developer has putted into this game.
At the end of the day I played roughly 7 or more VR games and had a lot of fun. The baby team gets visited by more than 50 players by the end of the day despite of a slow start and having a rather unattractive booth they have compare to other booths. One thing I believe that will help out the team getting more audiences is to set up a monitor of some sort showcasing the actual gameplay to visitors. Currently only those (1 or 2 players) playing the game gets to see the gameplay so it’s rather hard to get people’s attention who doesn’t know the level of fun they can have with this project.
On the 23rd of February, 2017, me and Shirai-sensei traveled together to Tokyo to attend Dr. Hao Li’s presentation. Before we went to the presentation however, the two of us stopped by Todai to attend the IVRC competition planning meeting. There at Todai I saw a couple of familiar faces whom I have met earlier such as Professor Takayuki Hoshi, Professor Takuya Nojima, and Professor Susumu Tachi. Me and Susumu Tachi have actually met over six months ago at SIGGRAPH Los Angeles and later again at IVRC 2016 but since I couldn’t speak much Japanese at that time I was unable to introduce myself. I also get to meet Professor Hiroyuki Kajimoto and Shoichi Hasegawa. It was a great experience to get to sit in and listen to the discussions despite of me not knowing the entire conversation.
After our Todai visit we arrived at Dr. Hao Li’s presentation at Ochanomizu University. Dr. Hao Li is a tenure track assistant professor at USC whose research focuses on real-time human face capture and dynamic shape reconstruction. His works were widely used in the aftereffects and film industry. During today’s talk, Dr. Hao Li introduced a method where instead of capturing every single motion and try juxtaposing the captured motions onto every frame properly (which has a high chance of screwing up), he would reconstruct a human face using a volumetric 3D model and then wrap the models around the frames instead. The process is rather complicated and due to my lack of sleep I wasn’t able to understand how he was able to achieve such feats but the presentation was still awe-inspiring nevertheless.
Afterwards Shirai-sensei gave me a tour around Shinjuku station and helped me buy my Japanese sim card. We also talked about my research plans and important dates. This pretty much sums up my activities today as afterwards I rode a very crowded train back to Hon-Atsugi without getting to sit down even once. I have had much fun today and am hoping to get more chances to embark on trips such as this one except for the train ride home.
東大に行った後で、お茶の水女子大学へドクターHao Liの発表を聞きに行きました。ドクターHaoの研究は難しいですが、面白いです。今彼の技術はたくさんの会社が使用しています。発表が終った後、先生と一緒に彼に質問しました。仕事が全部終わったあと、白井先生が私に携帯番号を手に入れてくれました。(Special thanks to Yuya for helping me correcting my Japanese).
As of Monday, February 20th, 2017, I have stayed in Japan for two full weeks. During this time I have done many things but there are still much more to be done. So far I have listened to the graduation presentation of graduate students as well as undergraduate seniors, attended intensive interview training for Rotary Yoneyama scholarship interview (which ended up getting cancelled), bought appliances and furniture for my new apartment, and studied artificial intelligence.
The most important thing I’ve accomplished so far is the SIGGRAPH 2017 submission I did together with other Shirai lab members. The submission took a long time and a lot of communication took place but eventually we got it done.
Currently in order to get better at my Japanese I’m practicing it every single day. It’s not the easiest language there is and switching in between English and Japanese isn’t as easy as some would expect but I’m making some progress. Below are some of the photos I have taken so far since arriving at Japan.
What’a happening everyone, I am back! In JAPAN also! After graduating from masters some 2 years ago and finding work/working for a bit more than 1 year, I have decided to pursue a PhD in Information Technology at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology, the same university I did an exchange student with 3 years prior.
The weather has been freezing and I am working on pre-PhD research at this point. More updates are to come in the future so stay tuned!