CSc 59866/59867 Capstone I/II Fall 2014-Spring 2015
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
Professor Tony Ro, Department of Psychology

Project Mentor Team
Wai L. Khoo, Edgardo Molina, Feng Hu, Wei Li, Greg Olmschenk

The City College of New York

Spring 2015   Schedule (academic calendar)
Class Meet Time & Location:    Tuesdays 12:30-2:30PM  Location NAC 8/207 (CS Conference Room)
(Note: Backup Location SH-201 12:20 - 1:50 if the CS Room is in use)
Office Hours: Tuesdays    2:30 pm - 4:30 pm, NAC 8/211

Fall 2014  Tentative Schedule (academic calendar)
Class Meet Time & Location:    M,W 12:30-01:45PM  NAC-7/225
Office Hours:  Wednesdays  11:00 am - 12:00 pm,  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm, NAC 8/211

Capstone Wiki Pages  (Internal Use Only)


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.

As the second part of the first semester, students will read technical papers and present to the class. 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 (1)  Kaylie Prize for New Ventures - Hardware, (2) Zahn Prize for New Ventures - Software and Beyond, and (3) NCIIA E-TEAM Competition. The winning teams will be supported to continue the effort in summer and beyond.  

Reading Materials 

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,  2014-2015