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Presenting neiatree

Mandatory Screenshot

neiatree is an asset tree processing tool for games of other multimedia applications. I made it after I counldn’t find something similar that was simple to setup and use like I wanted, so why not scratch my own itch? By this naming convention following after neiasound I guess I’m starting a neiasomething library collection. neiaframeworks, perhaps? Hmm…  

So, about neiatree. It allows you to parse a directory tree into another, optionally processing the files into other files. Inspired by make, also keeps track of source file modification dates and updates only what has changed. So you can for example, compress textures and sounds for your game as a build step that runs automatically, before or after a build or a run. Want to use different compression settings for your tool? Not to worry, change the rules and clean your destination folder. If you did not change anything, the overhead in project build time is negligible. A tenth of a second or so.

It is easy to integrate it into your toolchain. The only build dependency is Qt 5.4. You can use an older version with simple tweaks.

Licensed under 2-clause BSD. Go check the GitHub repository!

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Intel RealSense for Mobile Devices: Aftermath
Geting, Rauli, Me 🙂

It is hard to believe the project is over already, and I did not post anything about it apart from a passing mention when the KoneCranes App project was concluded. Perhaps it is because our great PM Cyndi took care of keeping a nice and steady blog about all of our activities, productive and social. Here it is.

I can’t think of anything but praise for the team. We simply work great together, top to bottom, in a fashion I have only fleetingly experienced before. Even if the project turned out to be crap, at least we would have made some good friends. Alas, it turned out our project was in the top 4 shortlist, and we competed head-to-head for the win! Nope, we did not win. So close…

What we ended up with as deliverables was mainly documentation for ideas for future RealSense applications, and a proof of concept implementation of 3D camera usage for unique party experiences. Those are to be licensed to Intel, so meh, I can’t post anything here 😉

If I had to distill a main project takeaway from a technical perspective, it would be that Intel is right on the money. The “future” mobile experiences will be defined by contextual computing, and quality of implementation matters. Specialized hardware with good software middleware is must for developers, given the sheer amount of heterogeneous solutions that need to come together to give a contextual computing architecture shape and protocols. This is a very exciting time for developers. Our camping knives are being sharpened for us, our tents will raise by themselves.

Let’s explore!

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Projective Game Platform for Public Spaces

Hello everyone! 🙂

My second and final semester at the University of Tampere has just come to an end. I am very thankful for being invited to this great instituition. The ambiance and facilities are just as excellent as the staff and quality of teaching. This post is about my project for the Human-Technology Interaction Project course at the School of Information Sciences.

It is a proof-of-concept for a gaming platform that could be applied to public spaces, using multiple projection and the original Microsoft Kinect. Not terribly original, but functional, and quite fun! Check out footage from our user testing: (that means party at my room :D)

It depends on Qt 5.4, OpenAL (it embeds a version of neiasound), OpenNI2, and NiTE2. Code is available here, on GitHub.

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Today is a very important day for me. I am finally releasing to the wild my first open source library!

neiasound is an OpenAL wrapper for Qt-style applications, ready to be integrated into an engine’s main loop. Doing positional audio is stupidly easy with it. It also includes  facilities for reading wav and ogg files, and optionally supports libsndfile, for reading flac and many more formats. It is also easy to implement your own audio stream decoder interface. There is support for streaming dynamic playlists with intros and seamless looping.

I have been developing and dogfooding this lib for quite a while now, and I am most happy to share it with the world! In fact, dw Engine is my third project to use it. It never stopped evolving. What is missing, but coming, is support for more straightforward usage of efx effects and extensions, and minor cleanups.

In Android projects, it is compatible with the standard OpenAL Soft port, and OpenAL-MOB. I recommend OpenAL-MOB for a better experience and reduced latency. If you disable HRTFs, I suspect performance is the same or better.

neiasound is made available under the 2-clause BSD License. Give it a try on your next project!

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Maker Faire UK

First time in Maker Faire!

Well, it has been a while. This semester has been quite busy and there is still a lot of stuff to be done. Also I got confirmation that I’ll have an internship for the summer at Demola. So… More work for me. Fantastic, really!

However this weekend I managed to take a break from school and Finland to go accompany my friend Juha from to Maker Faire UK in Newcastle. A huge thanks to him for making this possible 😀

Together, in the stand, we demonstrated his homebrew pick-and-place machine and software and I would like take a moment to say how awesome it is. Between sending a board layout to a factory to get only a couple of prototypes, and soldering hundreds of absurdly small SMD components ourselves, electronics designers never had many options concerning the production of more complex prototypes. This machine attends these use cases perfectly, as it is cheap, and built with a designer’s workflow in mind. Don’t hesitate to check the website, even if only to appreciate its ingenuity.

On another note, I got to win SODAQ‘s mini hackaton challenge and now I have a board of my own! So I look forward to playing with it and coming up with something cool. The code for my design, Bluetooth Low-Energy controllable Game of Life, can be found here.

As for general stuff, my other projects go on. I should have something to share after the semester ends. Cheers!
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dw Engine Update One

We have Fire Shield! Normal shield! Bridges! Running on water! Rain! Particle effects! Cool stuff! Basically, The engine is ready for it’s inevitable one/two zone demo. The first video is a bit older, and sucks for being offscreen. Linux version. The other is more recent, from the android build. The capture is choppy though, so you’ll have to take my word for it when I say the framerate is good.

So, the engine has evolved by leaps and bounds since the last hackish screenshot on the previous post. Player physics were ported to C++ but remained functionally the same, only some bug fixes were applied, particularly when rolling and pushing. Now we have a much-needed BVH, less boilerplate code in level object components, and small misc optimizations all around. The Android version runs at 60fps solid most of time (Moto X 2013) even with reflections and fancy stuff. It drops frames when there are lots of objects on screen though, particularly when rings scatter. If one prizes accurate Genesis emulation, that is a feature! (I’m kidding of course, more optimizations are needed)

The BVH is of the hierarchical circles type, implemented as two classes in native code and performs well enough, activating/deactivating graph leaves by emitting signals. Essential for decent performance on android. Zones can be of arbitrary size now, within floating-point precision limitations. I did not see the need for anything more complex such as AABBs.

There is a thread in Sonic United about the project. More timely updates are to be found there, for the interested parties. I shall work on releasing a demo (with an original zone) in my spare time, I just hope there is enough time to present it at SAGE 2015. Zomg spriting is hard! Not sure if there are two acts this year like last year, so, fingers crossed.

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Smart Crane Monitoring App and Real Sense for Mobile Devices

One final presentation at Konecranes HQ in Hyvinkää, marked the end of the SCMA project with Konecranes. It was a
pleasure to work with the company, and special thanks go to our awesome Demola
facilitator, Ville Korpiluoto. Cheers!

project results were licensed to the company and development will
continue internally at Konecranes. It has taught me a little bit more
about native mobile app development and respective interfaces. I am also proud of the graphical design of the app, which was drawn from scratch. In retrospect, the whole project was a very positive experience. See previous posts for more material.

The Spring semester here in Finland has brought another interesting project to work on, in partnership with Intel: Real Sense for Smart Devices. This one has a bigger team, and very interesting technology to play with. I would love to try and get some game up and running with it 😀

Now, I’m off to relax a little here in Scotland to finish a week-long UK trip, with a great view of the Edinburgh castle. Student life ain’t easy…

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Smart Crane Monitoring App Update

This is another blog post reporting project progress. On the 18th of December we had a review meeting with KONECRANES. We revised the use cases and set the final goals for implementation. During the holidays it was a bit difficult to work, given the atmosphere and constant distractions. I’m glad I still got to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s in Tampere. Ultimately, work got done finishing the UI.

Inspection Checklist UI

Our next meeting will be on January 7th. The project nears it’s conclusion. In our agenda we will focus on results so far and on how the final presentations will be conducted.

That was it for this blog post. I will be back with the video of the final presentation, on the 15th. Later!

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Smart Crane Monitoring App

Hello everyone! This is an update on the Smart Crane Monitoring App project at Demola Tampere.

About the Project

More information about the project can be found here. Previous blog posts about the project can be found in the same page.

Our Progress

In the beginning of the project, one of the first things we worked on was the project playbook. It was reviewed in a meeting at Konecranes HQ, in which we also showed a draft application demoing sensor interaction. We also got to play with the industrial cranes in the testing facility (photos were not allowed). We had lots of fun!
Our team at Konecranes Headquarters

Next, we worked on the design of the user interface and defined the main interaction patterns and functionality of the application. We had weekly Skype meetings with our client for delivering updates on the progress. The skeleton of the app was laid out and choices concerning tools and libraries were made.

In the last weeks

A lot of work went into documenting use cases for the application, as these are one of the main deliverables of the project. We faced some delays in this process but implementation marched on.
Qt 5.x was chosen as the main library for app development, with the
QtSql and QtMultimedia modules enabled, as well as the new WebEngine
module in Qt 5.4. The libraries zbar and qchart are going to be used for
reading Qr Codes and plotting graphs, respectively. The application is running on Android smoothly.
The backend uses MySQL Server 5 for all storage tasks. Currently there is no managed interface to the database. Acess control and data commiting is done solely through the MySQL driver, using users and roles from the DB system itself. All operations done by the client application are pure SQL queries.
 Some screenshots of the app running on the IDE and target devices:
Development Environment

App in action
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The dw game engine showing off my programmer art.

I would like to show off a little side project of mine: the dwEngine. It is a game engine based off QtQuick2 and utilizes many of its features, benefitting from the great performance of QSG. It integrates Box2D, on the C++ side, for collision detection, raycasting and physics. As a bonus, it is being developed in paralell with its Android version, since it is so easy to port stuff.

My current goal is to get a complete Sonic the Hedgehog style engine working, replicating the original physics as closely as possible. The Sonic Physics Guide at Sonic Retro is a great resource, and the results so far are almost impossible to tell apart from the original games.

I shall publish a video once I get a more complete test level and a better recording setup. Submitting a demo to SAGE 2015 is my ultimate goal. Then I decide what to do with the engine from there.

Till next time!

Bonus screenshot: Debug mode on Android.