CSc 59866/59867 Capstone I/II Fall 2013-Spring 2014
CS/CpE/EE/Psy Joint Senior Design Program
Smart Living and Assistive Technologies for People in Need

Zhigang Zhu, Department of Computer Science

Professor Jizhong Xiao , Department of Electrical Engineering
Profesor Tony Ro, Department of Psychology
The City College of New York

Spring 2014 (academic calendar)

Spring 2014 Class Meet Time & Location:    Tuesday 2:00-3:30PM  NAC-7/207 (CS Conference Room)
Spring 2014 Office Hours: Tuesday 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm, NAC 8/211

  • Jan 28, 2014. First class meet in Spring 2014.
  • Jan 28, 2014. Capstone 2013-2014 Wiki Page is up. Please put in weekly update items.
  • March 10, 2014. Professor Jeff Bigham from CMU will give a talk on Crowd Agents: A Top-Down Approach to Truly Intelligent Systems, at 12:15 pm in Room NAC 6/113.
  • March 17, 2014. Grading up to now (Week 1 - Week 7).
  • April 05, 2014. Please prepare a quick plan in April 8th class for your final presentation. I would like you to tell us what you want to evaluate (tasks, devices, methods, comparison, etc), whether you need human subjects (including blind), and a work plan. I will make some arrangements during the spring break. Right after the break, we only have three classes. We will probably invite people to try/evaluate your systems on April 29 and/or May 6, and then you summarize the findings and finalize your project for a final presentation on May 13.
  • April 07, 2014. Grading up to now (Week 1 - Week 10).
  • May 06, 2014.  Time: 2:30 - 3:45 pm, NAC 8/207. We will do our mutual grading at that time. The final report will be due on May 15, 2014.
  • May 15, 2014. Final Presentations, 12:00 - 300 pm in NAC 4/115. Open to Public.
  • May 15, 2014. Final Grading.

Fall 2013 (
academic calendar

Fall 2013 Class Meet Time & Location:    M,W 12:30-01:45PM  NAC-7/225
Fall 2013 Office Hours: Mondays 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm, Wednesdays  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm, NAC 8/211

  • August 28, 2013, First day of class: Introduction by Prof. Zhu (slides)
  • September 09, 2013, Reading Assignments (slides)
  • September 11, 2013, CS/CpE/EE Joint Meeting: Introduction by Prof. Xiao (slides)
  • September 13, 2013, Please check out the updated reading assignments. Prof. Zhu will present lectures on Vision and Brain to both CS/CpE and EE students on Mondays of the following four weeks. Right after the class, Prof. Xiao will discuss Sensors, Actuators and Motor Control to EE students either in NA 7/225 or NA 8/207. CS/CpE students please join them if you are available. CS/CpE students will discuss the previous reports on Wednesdays these four weeks. 
  • September 16, 2013, Vision and Brain (I): Eyes (Zhu)
  • September 17, 2013. Please check out  NSF Senior Design Projects For Persons With Disabilities for getting ideas ofyour projects.
  • September 18, 2013, Student Presentations (I): VISTA (Jose & Jorge), KinDetect (Carlos& Luis). Please send your slides and questions by Tuesday (09/17) noon.
  • September 23, 2013, Vision and Brain (II): Visual Brain (Zhu)
  • September 25, 2013, Student Presentations (I): LANE (Shaofeng & Shung Hoo), IrisPi (Yeukhon & Owais)
  • September 30, 2013. We will have an invited talk on Accessibility Research at IBM by Dr. Chieko Asakawa (IBM Fellow) and Dr. Hiro Takagi (Senior Technical Staff Members, Accessibility Research, IBM Research - Tokyo), at 12:30 pm in NAC 7/225 at CCNY. Here are few pictures of the speakers with the Capstone students.
  • October 02, 2013, Student Presentations (I): Smart House (Owais & Shaofeng), Smart Phone (Luis & Carlos)
  • October 07, 2013, Vision and Brain (III): Depth  (Zhu)
  • October 09, 2013,  Student Presentations (I): Tactile Belt (Chris & Jose), Lytro (Jorge & Chris), Assisted Navigation (Sung Hoo &Yeukhon)
  • October 15, 2013,  Robotics: Sensors, Control and Locomotion (I) (slides) (Xiao) (Note: 10/15 is a Tuesday but on a Monday schedule)
  • October 16, 2013, Vision and Brain (IV): Color (Zhu); Assignments for the student general paper presentations
  • October 21, 2013. We will have an invited talk on ELIA Alphabet and ELIA Life Technology by Mr. Andrew Chepaitis12:30 pm in NAC 7/225 at CCNY.
  • October 23, 2013,  CS/CpE Student Presentations (II): Team 1 Vis-Therapy(Owais and Luis)
  • October 28, 2013, An Overview of Intellectual Property for Engineers, by Patent Attorney Daniel Gross
  • October 30, 2013, CS/CpE Student Presentations (II) : Team 3 Blind Reading Text (Jose & Shaofeng) , Team 4 - Lytro 3D (Chris and Carlos)
  • November 04, 2013, Robotics: Sensors, Control and Locomotion (II) (slides) (video) (Xiao)
  • November 6, 2013.CS/CpE Student Presentations (II): Team 5 Blind Reading Math (Jorge & Shung Hoo), Team 2 - Siri Apps (John)
  • November 11, 2013, Robotics: Sensors, Control and Locomotion (III) (slides) (Xiao)
  • November 13, 2013, CS/CpE/EE Teams & Proposals: 10 minute presentation each
  • November 18, 2013, Project discussions. Requirements and QAs.
  • November 20, 2013, Exam review (no class meet)
  • November 25, 2013, CS/CpE/EE Exam on Vision, Brain and Locomotion.
  • November 27, Grading Records So Far. Final grading break-down: Attendance/responses: 10%; Previous project presentation: 20%; Project-related reading: 20%; proposal summary: 10%; Exam: 20%; Final proposal presentation: 20%
  • Dec 2, 4, 9, 11 - Final proposal presentations and exam discussions. Each team will have 30 minutes. Tentative schedules:
    • Dec 2: Owais/Luis; Doug Adams' presentation: An Overview of CUNY IP Policies, by Doug Adams, Director of Technology Commercialization Office
    • Dec 4: Jorge/Shung Hoo, Chris/Carlos
    • Dec 9: Exam Discussions - Please return your copies of the book, EE Team 1&2
    • Dec 11: Jose/Shaofeng, Yeukhon
  • Dec 15, 2013, Final proposal writing submission. Please prepare your slides and final proposals with at least the following sections: problem statement, background and related work, goals and objectives, your approach/designs/algorithms, implementation challenges, a rough budget, and a detailed work plan for the next semester.Finally please list the references (papers, links etc).

  • Dec 20, 2013, Final Grading. Happy Holidays to all!


Leveraging Prof. Zhigang Zhu's expertise in human-computer interaction and computer vision, Prof. John (Jizhong) Xiao's expertise in robotic navigation, and Prof. Tony Ro's expertise in cognitive neuroscience particularly in perception and action,  we have expanded their research focus to developing advanced human centric assistive systems to help people in need, e.g. visually impaired people, to achieve independent and quality life in familiar or unfamiliar environments. We have collaborations with the Computer Center for Visually Impaired People (CCVIP) at CUNY Baruch College, the NYS Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH), and the New York Institute of Special Education. Their feedback could help us to develop compact, lightweight, inexpensive devices or services to improve the quality of life of people, particular those in need .


We have developed a cross-department joint senior design course for undergraduate seniors in CS, CpE and EE as well as independent study students in Psy in developing automated and assistive technologies for smart living of all.  These include: multimodal, passive and unobtrusive techniques for helping visually impaired people to achieve independent travel in unfamiliar environments; smart house systems and mobile apps for improving the quality of life; and sensing technologies for health monitoring and rehabilitation .We have obtained NCIIA funding support  and NSF funding support to carry out basic research and to run the cross-department joint senior design program for CS/CpE/EE seniors. The joint senior design program builds on our existing capstone design course structure in CS and EE departments, but with a new concentration on assistive technology for people in need

In each year, the joint senior design course is a mandated two semester sequence for senior students in both CS and EE departments. In the first semester we will offer lectures on basic technologies in sensors, actuators, robotic navigation, vision algorithms, and assistive technologies by the instructors. The general lectures will introduce important aspects of a business plan such as project management, intellectual property (IP), entrepreneurship. In addition, the lecture series on entrepreneurship at GSoE will be utilized where professionals are invited to share their real world experiences.

In the second part of the first semester, under the guidance of the instructors, the undergrad seniors will form teams to survey the state-of-the-art technologies in several challenges areas (i.e., multimodal sensing approaches, assistive technologies, and mobile apps), perform patent searches, conduct marketing analyses, and write project proposals which shall include design ideas, a reasonable budget, a management plan with milestones, and a business plan. CS/CpE/EE/Psy students are encouraged to form multidisciplinary teams and work collaboratively to contribute their different expertise in the projects. The faculty mentors will review the proposals and give senior design students feedback to refine  their projects

In the second semester, the student teams are expected to implement design ideas, prototype, test, and evaluate different designs. Students will also have the opportunities to perform usability study on vision impaired users in collaboration with NYS CBVH therefore better understanding their needs to improve the designs and to create more appropriate business plans.

The prominent teams with innovative ideas/technology and good business plans will be recommended to compete for the
Kaylie Prize for Entrepreneurship and NCIIA E-TEAM Competition. The winning teams will be supported to continue the effort in summer and beyond.  

Reading Materials (TO BE UPDATED)

Other Useful Links 

NSF EFRI-M3C Funding Support for Research (For more information, please see a news post about the project.)

NSF GARDE Funding Support for Course Development

NCIIA funding support [planning] [regular]

Our 2011-2012 Capstone Team V.I.S.T.A. together with two other students in our labs won the $50000 Kaylie Prize (See also The City College Kaylie Prize for Entrepreneurship ) A video demonstrating the early prototype of the device can be found here.

Professor Zhigang Zhu's Visual Computing Laboratory

Professor John (Jizhong) Xiao's Robotics Laboratory

The Ro Lab at CUNY City College and Graduate Center

Computer Center for Visually Impaired People (CCVIP) at CUNY Baruch College

NYS Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH)

New York Institute for Special Education (NYISE)

Copyright @ Zhigang Zhu,  2013-2014