January, 2012

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KinectFusion Presents: Lord Pyry

After working all weekend on getting PCL’s new KinectFusion and collecting cool voxel representations of my friend (and after fixing the bug patch), we got this rendering:

We got this by setting the voxel size to be about upper-torso sized and then spinning my friend around on a chair. Thanks to the duality of the problem, it doesn’t matter if it’s the camera moving or the object moving relative to the camera. While there are definite errors and the resolution isn’t as high as one might want to capture fine facial features, it is still pretty impressive!

KinectFusion Weekend (T-107)

So KinectFusion is an awesome new Microsoft algorithm for the GPU that essentially does real-time SLAM with Kinect RGBD cameras. They didn’t publish the source, but the WillowGarage PCL and OpenCV guys have been busy implementing it from the paper. And I must say, the beta versions so far in the PCL svn are quite impressive. It acts about the same as what you see in the Microsoft demo videos. On my GTX 470 it runs at 20 Hz. It does seem to loose track fairly easily and has to reset, especially with large camera movements. Plus because it is using a dense voxel representation on the GPU, the max size is 512x512x512, which covers only a small room with reasonable resolution. This isn’t great, but I imagine that issues such as these could be fixed with better global matching (for instance color ICP) or a paging system that seamlessly transfers parts of the voxel representation between the CPU and GPU so you can model larger areas. I spent all day Saturday playing around with friends on KinectFusion and trying to use GPU-accelerated SURF matching to enforce a better global localization, but without a lot of success. We also captured some cool 3D models to voxel files. During this process, we found a bug in their saving function. Binary files were being written without being opened as binary, which turned all ‘\n’ into ‘\r\n’ on Windows. Today I submitted a patch, which I guess makes me an open-source contributor to PCL. Woohoo!

Today was a good day (T-108)

Even though I was forced to get up unreasonably early for an advisor meeting, today went remarkably well. I discovered the deadline for BioRob 2012 had been pushed back from Jan 15th to Jan 31st, which gives me a huge breather. That greatly reduces (or at least postpones) the slew of all-nighters I would have to pull next week. My advisor meeting went well (i.e. I didn’t get yelled at :)) too. I spent the afternoon compiling OpenCV and PCL to try out the new KinectFusion. I was able to get the sample code for dense stereo working in OpenCV on the GPU which should be very handy. Finally, my coauthor and I got our journal paper down to 14 pages and are pretty much ready to submit. A few more proofs, final preparations, a few comments from friends willing to look at it, and bam we should be good to go! All in all, a very busy, yet rewarding day.

Today I learned KY is awesome (T-109 days)

Today was “get back to the salt mines and get your shovel rusty” day. Our next set of experiments with our lab’s surgical robot Micron (white handled gizmo on the right in the black plexiglass holder) is designed for retinal procedures. To begin more realistic evaluation, I am trying to create a fake, or phantom, eye for which we can do tests. Luckily, we have these blue rubber eye-ball phantoms from JHU so mostly I just have to adapt the setup for our needs. Since retinal surgeries create little holes, or ports, in the side of the eye to stick tools through to get back to the retina on the back of the eye, I spent my day carving holes in blue rubber and trying to fit small 3 mm tubes to form a trocar. I mostly succeeded by dinner time and went to pick a friend up at the airport and eat at Cracker Barrel, which was nice. Upon returning, I discovered that our tool didn’t work very well at all, possibly because the rubber eye couldn’t rotate very well in my metal spherical holder. KY lubricant to the rescue! A dab in the bottom and bam, suddenly the eye could move around as easily as you looking right and left. Re-running a few preliminary tests showed some visual improvement with our surgical robot so I’m happy. Hopefully my advisor will be happy too at our insanely early meeting tomorrow. I called it quits early around midnight and headed home to write some of my thesis (and write this blog while I try to prevent myself from getting fat by riding an exercise bike). It’s all about multi-tasking – oh and not having a life 😀

Star of India No More??? (T-110 days)

I went with a friend to Star of India on Craig because Wed. is chicken masala day only to discover they were closed with tarps covering the windows and doors! That is not good at all, and we were forced to Kohli’s for our Indian food cravings. It wasn’t too bad actually, but fresh nan is the best (after a while 0/0 starts getting stale). I also started my thesis party tonight. I got some papers reviewed: apparently everybody and their brother have tried to do 3D retinal reconstruction. Luckily, a lot of it seems very slow or only outputs depth maps rather than metric reconstructions. Also, my friends were shocked to hear that I put my papers into svn as v1, v2, …, v23 – but I think it’s being doubly safe with my version control. Oh and I wasn’t quite as done as I thought I was with this journal: today I got to proof my partner in crime’s recently written section and was able to shave off another quarter of a page so we are at 14.25 pages – almost there!

The Frozen White North (T-112 days)

Well it’s back to the salt mines: this morning I departed from Orlando (left) and arrived at Pittsburgh (right). It is times like these that I wonder why I chose CMU. Then I remember the awesome robotics I get to do and I’m happy again. In other news, I finished up my part of the journal (14.5 pages) and handed it off to my partner in crime. Then I went on an airport and Steak ‘n’ Shake run. Oh and at T-112 days, I started my thesis!

Whew, 15 Pages (T-113 days)

Ahhh!!! My journal paper with a 14 page limit was 16.5 pages this morning and after an entire day of chop chop chopping, I have reduced it by to 15 pages. One more page to go (somehow). In the mean time, I just packed to leave in 4 hours when I head to the airport and fly back to Pittsburgh. Fun fun!

Let the Madness Begin! (T-114 days)

So as the dawning new year coincides the 4.5 year anniversary of my entrance to the PhD program at the Robotics Institute at CMU, it is time to seriously think about dissertations, defenses (wait, singular, just one!), and graduation. I am hoping to graduate in the May 20th CMU commencement this spring, which is just in time for the world to end six or so months later. Hoooray! So I figured why not try to document this incredibly stressful time in my life (since of course, there is nothing busy people like better than more menial tasks).

Today I spent reviewing my journal paper and adding in some of my latest results. Alas I am now 3 pages over my 14 page limit. Tomorrow will be trimming (or probably chain-sawing is a more suitable verb ;)). Being that day traditionally associated with plans and resolves and similar such nonsense, I decided to break out my ill-used Google Calendar and make a schedule. My first scheduled event was to start my thesis when I get back to the frozen wasteland of Pittsburgh and my second action was to schedule a thesis writing party every day after supper – oh so much fun 😀 I tentatively set April 25th as my defense date since that would be exactly a year from my thesis proposal. w00t!