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Alex S Hill

Alex S Hill

227 Kathryn Ave
Decatur, GA 30030

phone: +1 (773) 575 8530

RESEARCH INTERESTS

As a researcher in the field of human-computer interaction, I am focused on techniques and tools that increase the creativity and productivity of individuals using systems leveraging three dimensional input and output. My current research focuses on Integrated Development Environments for Augmented Reality that are built around software and protocols already seeing broad use. My research methodology is based on a strong interest in understanding and responding to the cognitive frameworks of actual stakeholders combined with a belief that this dynamic is the most productive way to advance the field of 3D user interfaces. My greatest strength lies in bringing a combination of broad technical knowledge and strong communication skills, both verbal and visual, to bear on my relationship with the users of the tools I develop.

EDUCATION

12/07 Ph.D. in Computer Science. University of Illinois at Chicago
Dissertation: A Unified Framework for the Development of Desktop and Immersive User Interfaces
Electronic Visualization Laboratory directors Tom DeFanti and Daniel Sandin were recipients of the 2007 IEEE VGTC Virtual Reality Technical Achievement Award.

5/92 M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. University of Texas at Austin
Thesis: Reduced Order Modeling and First-Order Multivariate Control of a Coal Fired Power Plant
Cockrell Graduate Engineering School is consistently ranked in the top 10 (U.S. News & World Report).
12/88 B.S. in Mathematics. Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas
Minor: Art History
Ranked No. 1 in “America’s Best Colleges” guide 16 consecutive years (U.S. News & World Report).

EMPLOYMENT

08-11

Postdoctoral Fellow at the Augmented Environments Laboratory
I was a postdoctoral fellow working with Associate Professor Blair MacIntyre in the Interactive Computing department at the Georgia Institute of Technology. One of the main research goals of the laboratory has been to contribute to the understanding and development of AR entertainment applications for handheld devices. My responsibilities included leading the effort to develop protocols for the client and server infrastructure of an open standards-based augmented reality browser. I also developed and continue to maintain an augmented reality toolkit for the Unity 3D game engine.
 

5-9/08

Research Scientist at the Center for Technology and Social Behavior
I conducted research on the development of Embodied Conversational Agents in the Articulab, the principle laboratory started by Justine Cassell after she moved from MIT. My focus was on developing a modular architecture for social behavior research using virtual peers. I was responsible for their current effort to develop target controllers for the SmartBody character realizer that we worked on in collaboration with Reykjavik University and USC. My research at the lab also included the development of BML character markup language extensions to model the interaction between virtual characters, objects in their environment and other virtual agents.
 

01-06

Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago
I was the sole instructor for the advanced section of Computer Art-Design in the School of Art and Design (AD 408). The class is designed to teach computer science topics to Master of Fine Arts students affiliated with the Electronic Visualization Laboratory. Lecture topics include polygon rendering techniques, scene graphs, stereo display, tele-immersion, spatialized sound, tracking and display hardware along with historical and artistic perspectives on virtual reality and gaming. Students can retake the course up to 2 times. I concurrently taught repeating students advanced subjects such as C++, the Performer rendering library and node development for the Ygdrasil VR system. The course also requires a laboratory section that I developed and instructed. In the final semester, I introduced a new graphical IDE to the instruction and revised the labs accordingly. In my role in the School of Art and Design, I also oversaw several students doing independent studies related to their MFA work.
 

99-05

Research Assistant at the University of Illinois at Chicago
The Electronic Visualization Laboratory is a 35-year collaboration between computer scientists and artists best known for developing the CAVE virtual reality system. During my graduate studies at the lab my main responsibility was maintaining and continuing development of the Ygdrasil authoring platform. Ygdrasil is a script-based virtual reality authoring system using dynamic plug-ins and built-in tele-collaboration. I added numerous features including an overhaul of the message passing system, state persistence, state variable access and spatialized sound. I was also responsible for developing an automatic documentation system, maintaining a user forum and creating user tutorials. My responsibilities also included acting as technical director for a large number of virtual reality projects initiated either by faculty or MFA students.
 

97-99

Systems Analyst with Priority Staffing, Limited
Through this organization, I did consulting work for the CITGO refinery outside of Chicago. My role involved extending the capabilities of the existing plantwide database by adding a content management system, creating an automated backup systems and consulting on other historian related improvements.
 

95-97

Senior Project Engineer with Aspen Technology, Incorporated
Although still doing process control, I started specializing in client-server technology and user interfaces. The Unoven Company in Lemont, Illinois requested my services for a 2-year term to build a plant historian and laboratory sample management system using Aspen’s SETCIM relational database and the SQL query language. The final system gave desktop users access to over a decade of DCS and lab trend data through a customized graphical system and ODBC enabled spreadsheets.
 

92-95

Project Engineer with Setpoint, Incorporated
As a member of the Advanced Hydrocarbon Controls department, I worked on a number of projects implementing multi-variable controls at client sites around the world. I became specialized in the control of Delayed Coker units and the development of plant historian databases. I worked on maintaining the library of process control software and took a special interest in projects to develop graphical user interfaces.
 

91-92 Research Assistant at the University of Texas at Austin
My work in the Dynamics Systems area involved multivariable control schemes based on reduced order models. I conducted research on the development of a reduced order power plant model that involved running simulations on the Cray Y-MP system. Through consultations with the SPS Energy company in Lubbock, Texas I replaced the pneumatic control scheme on a high order model with a digital system to reflect recent system upgrades at the target plant.
 
90-91

Teaching Assistant at the University of Texas at Austin
Graded assignments, conducted tutoring sessions and conducted problem review lectures with a sub-group of a large Thermodynamics class.

PUBLICATIONS Return to Top

REFEREED CONFERENCES

10/11 Macintyre, B., Hill, A., Rouzati, H., Gandy, M., Davidson, B., The Argon AR Web Browser and Standards-based AR Application Environment, Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, October 26-29, 2011, Basel, Switzerland, 10 pages PDF (16.4 MB)
3/08 Hill, A., Johnson, A., Withindows: A Framework for Transitional Desktop and Immersive User Interfaces, appearing in Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces, March 2008, Reno, Nevada, 8 pages PDF (1.92 MB)
3/07 Hill, A., Tsoupikova, D., Development of Rutopia 2 VR Artwork Using New Ygdrasil Features, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Computer Graphics Theory and Applications, Springer, March, 2007, Barcelona, Spain, 4 pages PDF (833 KB)

REFEREED JOURNALS

2/05 Fischnaller, F., Hill, A.: CITYCLUSTER - "From the Renaissance to the Megabyte Networking Age”: A Virtual Reality and High-Speed Networking Project, Presence: Teleoperators & Virtual Environments, February 1, 2005, Vol. 14, No. 1, Pages 1-19, 18 pages PDF (738 KB)

DOCTORAL DISSERTATION

12/07 Hill, A.: WITHINDOWS: A Framework for the Development of Desktop and Immersive User Interfaces, Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, 201 pages PDF (2.34 MB)

CONFERENCES, POSTERS, ARTICLES AND TECHNICAL REPORTS

10/11 Hill, A., Schiefer, J., MacIntyre, B.: Virtual Transparency: Introducing Parallax View into Video See-through AR, Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, October 26-29, 2011, Basel, Switzerland, Poster, 2 pages IEEE
7/11 Hill, A., MacIntyre, B., Gandy, M., Barba, E., Davidson, B.: Mirror Worlds: Experimenting with Heterogeneous AR, International Symposium on Ubiquitous Virtual Reality, July 1-3, 2011, Jeju, South Korea, Invited Paper, 4 pages PDF (4.0 MB)
7/11 Hill, A., Bonner, M., MacIntyre, B.: ClearSpace: Mixed-Reality Virtual Teamrooms, International Conference, HCI International, July 9-14, 2011, Orlando, Florida, Invited Paper, 4 pages PDF (663 KB)
10/10 Hill, A., MacIntyre, B., Gandy, M., Davidson, B., Rouzati, H.: KHARMA: An Open KML/HTML Architecture for Mobile Augmented Reality Applications, IEEE Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality, October 14-16, 2010, Seoul, Korea, Poster, Pages 233-234 IEEE
7/09 Hill, A., Macintyre, B.: ClearSpace: Mixed-Reality Presence through Virtual ClearBoards, IEEE Pervasive Computing, July-September, 2009, Vol. 8, No. 3, Article, Pages 55-56 IEEE
11/08 Hill, A., Standardized Prototyping and Development of Virtual Agents, Technical Report: School of Communication and School of Engineering, NWU-EECS_10-10, Northwestern University, 2008, 17 pages PDF (645 KB)
3/07 Hill, A., Johnson, A.: Withindows: A Single-Authoring Framework for Desktop and Immersive Interfaces, IEEE Symposium on 3D User Interfaces, March 10-11, 2007, Charlotte, North Carolina, Poster PDF (126 KB)

INVITED TALKS

July 1, 2011: International Symposium on Ubiquitous Virtual Reality, “KHARMA Tutorial”, Jeju, South Korea

April 25, 2011: CATEA: State of the Science Conference, “Argon Browser”, Washington, D.C

September 29, 2010: CNN Newsroom Live, “Tech: Augmented Reality on Cellphone”, Atlanta, Georgia

December 12, 2007: Software Engineering Research Center, “3D User Interfaces”, Ball State University, Indiana

March 29, 2003: Version 3.0 Festival Panelist, “Tele-immersive Avatars”, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

01-02 Graduate Fellows in K-12 Education, University of Illinois at Chicago

PUBLIC PRESENTATIONS

May 20, 2010: KAMRA iPhone Browser, The Auggies: The Augmented Reality Event, Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, California

Mar 29-31, 2004: CITYCLUSTER, IEEE VR 2004, Electronic Visualization Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois (tele-collaborative with the School of Art and Design, UIC, Chicago)

November 20-21, 2003: CITYCLUSTER, Virtual Storytelling ’03, Modern and Contemporary Art Museum "Les Abattoirs", Toulouse, France

September 6-11, 2003: CITYCLUSTER, Ars Electronica Festival, AEC Museum of the Future, Linz, Austria

February 9-11, 2003: CITYCLUSTER, Museum of Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Florence, Italy
(tele-collaborative with Electronic Visualization Laboratory, Chicago)

October 22-26, 2002: CITYCLUSTER Prototype, X Canarias Mediafest, Elder Museum of Science and Technology, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain

October 21, 2001: Alive on the Grid, Chicago Artists Month, Electronic Visualization Laboratory, Chicago, Illinois (tele-collaborative with 4 sites including University of Indiana, USA and Umea, Sweden)

September 1-6, 2001: Alive on the Grid, Ars Electronica Festival, AEC Museum of the Future, Linz, Austria
(tele-collaborative with 6 sites including EVL, Chicago, Umea Institute, Sweden and C3 Institute, Hungary)

PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES

Chair of the W3C Points of Interest Working Group 3/1/11-

Member of the Program Committee for the International AR Standards Workshop 10/11/10-10/12/10

Reviewing for Pervasive Computing, Virtual Reality journal, ACM CHI, UbiComp and IEEE ISMAR conferences

Volunteer Assistant, Dr. Alex Schwarzkopf, ENG/IIP Program Director, National Science Foundation 11/07-12/07

Student Volunteer, SIGGRAPH 2001, New Orleans, Louisiana

PROJECT SUMMARIES Return to Top

RESEARCH PROJECTS

KHARMA KHARMA Augmented Environments Laboratory, ISMAR 2010
An open standards-based framework for the development of augmented reality applications on mobile devices based on HTML, CSS3, Javascript and an extention to standard KML markup.

UART Unity AR Toolkit Augmented Environments Laboratory, 2009
A set of Unity 3D plugins for background video, marker tracking and peripherals that allow users to easily develop and deploy augmented reality applications for both the desktop and iPhone.

ClearSpace ClearSpace Augmented Environments Laboratory, Pervasive Computing 2009
A mixed-reality interface for virtual teamrooms that tracks the head and hands of remote users at see-through interactive whiteboards and reflects their actions into a common virtual world.

Image Plane Study Image-Plane Study Electronic Visualization Laboratory, unpublished 2008
A user study to evaluate the merits of using image-plane selection on 2D surfaces. A repeated measures ANOVA contrasts image-plane with ray-casting on surfaces placed below the hand and at various distances from the user.

Withindows Withindows Electronic Visualization Laboratory, IEEE 3DUI Symposium 2008
A theoretical framework designed to single-author applications that operate on the continuum between the desktop and immersion. The framework is based on using image-plane selection on through-the-lens viewing windows.

Ygdrasil IDE Ygdrasil IDE Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2007
Proof of concept virtual world builder based on the Withindows framework. Uses image-plane selection on viewing windows for search, selection and manipulation in both desktop and immersive Linux/SGI/Windows environments.

CaveSim 2.0 CAVESim 2.0 Electronic Visualization Laboratory/VRCO, 2006
A modernization of the CAVElib simulator interface to improve the usability. Mouse-wand mode moves the hand in a spherical coordinate system under the mouse and the mouse-look mode allows de-coupled navigation and viewing.

Spatial OSC Spatial OSC Northwestern University, 2006
Replaced the Bergen Sound UDP networking with Open Sound Control and developed a OS X based Max/MSP server that can be used interchangeably instead of the Linux based Bergen sound server.

Avarticulate Avarticulate Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2005
A reverse kinematics system to articulate user avatars based on simple geometric rules. A component-based system allows users to easily program autonomous arm and leg interactions with simple shapes and complex terrain.

Space RAT Space RAT Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2003
Used Mbus protocol to interject messages into the Rat Audio Tool model-view-controller application. Spatialized and directionalized VOIP sources during tele-immersive virtual reality by adjusting their gain and 3D position respectively.

cxxDocumentor cxxDocumentor Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2002
Grammar parsing system to automatically document C++ code. Instead of the more typical comments within header files, the system constructs a human readable code outline from comments interspersed throughout code files.

Hazelcre HazelCrest TOD College of Urban Planning, 2002
Collaboration with a masters student to create an urban planning application in the CAVE. Used a transition into overview mode plus direct interactions to position, orient and exchange buildings.

The Field The Field Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2001
A portable stereo display application to help students learn about science inquiry. Developed code to automatically generate plant distributions and participated in student observations during my K-12 Education fellowship.

OpenScene OpenScene Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2000
A development system using Multigen Creator files for both geometry and scene composition. Instead of forcing the user to reposition scene elements in C++ code, behaviors are added directly to the scene in an OpenFlight file.

PARIS Evaluation PARIS Evaluation Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2000
The PARIS device attempts to strike a compromise between presenting stereo images on the horizon and at waist level. User study found the setup forced users into reaching and the resulting fatigue discouraged direct hand use.

Cluster Tracking

Cluster Tracking Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2000
Ported and optimized color clustering code developed at UIUC onto the SGI O2 unified memory architecture to increase computational efficiency. Used the software to track hands with the PARIS see-through VR system.


Mars Explorer

Mars Explorer Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 1999
A CAVE application to teach basic scientific inquiry skills related to graphing and clustering. Responsible for conceiving and programming the distribution, placement and composition of rock samples on the Martian surface.


ART AND DESIGN PROJECTS

Nojd

Nojd Royal Institute of Technology, 2006
A large screen installation based on the mythological Shaman from Northern Sweden. Combines embedded live video feeds, autonomous characters, particle systems and physics into a robust museum grade interface.


Fools Paradise

Fools Paradise Northwestern University, 2005
Collaboration with Paul Hertz to develop specialized Ygdrasil modules and create an interface to Max/MSP from within scenes. This work later developed into the Spatial OSC project.


Kenosha VRML

Kenosha VRML Placevision Incorporated, 2004
Designed and programmed the heads up display and interactive construction of proposed buildings for a VRML model of Kenosha, IL using touchSensors and texture transforms.


W.O.M.B. W.O.M.B. University of Konstanz, 2003
A CAVE application focused on balancing the seven major Chakras that implements a physically intuitive user interface. Proprioception and gesture control navigation while voice, gaze and hands create and organize bubbles.

CITYCLUSTER CITYCLUSTER Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2003
The novel user interface for this CAVE collaboration with Franz Fishnaller and F.A.B.R.I.CATORS uses a view rendered texture into the scene.  The user interface design presented unique opportunities for complex tele-immersive avatar representations.

Excavation ExCavation Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2001
A CAVE art piece, on permanent display at the ARS Museum, allows the user to interactively configure a very large active surface defined terrain. A highly efficient mesh representation scheme allows the piece to run at interactive frame rates.

Wardrobe Wardrobe Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2001
A virtual dressing room created for the Alive on the Grid project that represents to image of the avatar in a hall of mirrors effect. Users select avatar head, hand and body by pointing and selecting from parts hanging on the wall.

DreamBox Dreambox Electronic Visualization Laboratory, 2000
A CAVE art project based on psychoanalytic play therapy using a sand tray. Several attributes of each object are affected by relative position to one another.  The representation of inter-object states motivated the development of morphing, texture translation and dynamic surface modules.

MEMBERSHIPS

LANGUAGES

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