A team of Camosun College students used a bicycle tire rim, 112 LED lights and their knowledge of a visual phenomenon to create a unique final project for their electronics and computer engineering technology diploma program.
The group – made up of students David Spinks, Matt Tarasoff and Justin Temmel – attached the lights along the outside of the rim, hooked it up to a motor to make it spin, and programmed the lights to represent a string of pixels in a photo. When the rim spins fast enough, you can see a bright, holographic-looking globe turning in front of you.
“We’re simulating a fully functioning display in spherical formation,” Tarasoff said last Thursday during Capstone 2012, the event where students in the program showcase their final projects.
He says he and his fellow group members took advantage of a trick the eye plays called persistence of vision.
While the eye “refreshes” multiple times per second, the brain holds on to the previous image, burning it in your vision for a fraction of a second longer. Persistence of vision creates the appearance of fluidity and continuity from one image to the next.
By spinning the bike rim fast enough, previously illuminated parts of the world map stay in your retinas temporarily, creating the illusion of seeing a full globe.
“With 112 pixels (made of LED lights) rotated at a faster rate than the human eye refreshes, we can simulate thousands of pixels by just replacing the image before the eye believes it even left,” Tarasoff said.
A dozen projects were on display at Capstone, highlighting two years of intensive schooling for students in both the electronics and computer systems technology programs.
“It’s a way of putting everything they’ve learned together and coming up with a solution,” said Alan Duncan, chair of Camosun’s electronics and computer engineering technology department. “It’s sort of simulating what they’ll do in the work world, where they’ve got a problem, they try to solve it, and come up with a solution.”
Among the other projects on display were a smartphone-controlled SLR camera, an iPhone app that helps monitor a person’s safety, and improvements to the mobile-friendliness of the District of Saanich’s website.
Tarasoff says his team’s POV Globe (persistence of vision globe) has potential in such areas as advertising. “It can project almost any image you want.”
While graduation is just around the corner for the trio, and they’ll likely go off on different career paths, they say they’d like to improve upon their current POV Globe – given that they’ve invested hundreds of hours and dollars on it – and see where that takes them.
For more information on either of the Camosun programs, visit camosun.ca/learn/programs/engineering-tech.html.