Electronic engineering students impress with visually stunning project

By StudyLink

MEng students from the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering have gained worldwide attention for their impressive third year group design project.

Thomas Carpenter, Oliver Peel, Adam Clarkson and Laurence Bird created a 3D spherical persistence of vision (POV) globe, which uses smart-phone apps to control a stunning display of graphics and live internet-driven information.

The project had already received huge praise from within the University, but when an image of the globe, portraying a holographic image of the Death Star from Star Wars, reached twitter, a re-tweet from TV presenter, Dara O’Briain, made the students famous.

The POV globe is a ring of LEDs that are rotated at high-speed. At this speed our brains interpret the moving ring of light as a solid, spherical surface. By changing the colours of the LEDs very quickly, the team are able to display images on the spherical surface. This effect is known as persistence of vision.

To power the globe, the group used the single-board computer Raspberry Pi (RasPi), which is cheap and small, yet still powerful. It is capable of displaying any application that runs on RasPi in HDMI, such as BBC iplayer, computer games and images. The globe is interactive too and is controlled through a bespoke iOS application that communicates with the RasPi over Wi-Fi. The app can be used to control the home screen of the globe as well as individual apps running on the RasPi (e.g. world weather).

Although the project shot to fame through its image of the Death Star, the team are keen to reinforce the interactivity of the display and have produced the blog Interactive Persistence of Vision Globe to highlight their achievements.

The Group Design Project is a significant module taken by all students on our core degree programmes leading to an MEng (hons) degree. Up to half of the third year of study will be spent working on design projects.

Group projects provide an exciting opportunity to prove that you are ready to be considered as a professional engineer. Working alongside other student engineers, you will manage a complex technical project and achieve something to be proud of. Project work is an immensely satisfying and enjoyable aspect of the course.

There were several other successful group design projects from the school this year, visit the Group Design Project Web page to read more.
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