Category Archives: Students

Meet the students from HTC Vive Developers Jam

On Jan 24th – 26th, Goldsmiths Department of Computing, ran a Virtual Reality Hackathon weekend with HTC Vive. Participants were challenged to use VIVE hardware, including Software development kits like eye, lip and hand tracking to create an innovative virtual reality project. Meet some of the Goldsmiths student teams who wowed the judges with their unqiue and brilliant projects.

Group 1: Active Listening Training in VR

(aka the winners of the HTC Vive Hackathon 2020)

Our team had a very strong technical strength, with extensive knowledge in machine learning, VR and Unity development”

Carlos Gonzalez Diaz

What was the biggest challenge?

For this group the biggest challenge was the use of eye tracking, as well as the additional challenge of adding experimental sensors together. This team experimented with movement, mouth, eye, fingers and EEG (brain electrical activity) trackers. Unfortunately EEG and finger trackers proved too difficult within the strict time restrictions so they dropped them. The team managed to successfully integrate movement, eye and mouth tracking into a machine learning model in the final prototype.

What made the project unique?

The combination of technologies the team used, paired with an interesting story line made the project stand out. The team used the InteractML machine learning tool, an interactive machine learning framework for Unity which was developed by Carlos and colleagues. The machine learning aspect eased the teams workload.

What did they learn?

Cristina Dobre said “I’ve learnt many things from taking part in this event but if I’d choose one, that would be integration-as-you-go. As the team members specialised in different areas and worked in parallel on various parts of the system, we managed to put everything together towards the very end of the event. This gave us only little time to test and fix integration bugs which made the final work very stressful (also given our sleep-deprived states). We managed to have a playable demo with most of the important parts working, but it would have been a much smoother process if the integration would have taken place throughout the development, even though each part might have been only partly finished “

Team members (from left to right in tweet above):

Cristina Dobre, PhD Human Centered AI Characters in VR,
Lili Eva Bartha, experienced Designer and Scientist,
Claire Wu, PhD Neuroscience,
Carlos Gonzalez Diaz, PhD Machine Learning for expressive interactions


Group 2: VR Illusion

This team was a group of Goldsmiths students, many of whom has just started to learn VR in October 2019.

What were the teams strengths?

The skills in the team were varied, Hankun’s knowledge of unity helped them to solve their biggest problem of using C# to set the relationship between the size and position of the object. Yaqi brought skills in 3D modelling, so could quickly create the models they needed. Chaojing is skilled with the storytelling and drawing, so could set the story of the game and draw assets they needed. Finally, Shuai Xu is experienced in user interface design and sourced the music for the project.

How did the project relate studies at Goldsmiths?

Chaojing Li said “For the production of virtual reality games, the sense of the presence of the player is essential, because I think the most important meaning of Virtual Reality is to give people an immersive experience. We think that if there is no such sense of presence, then VR games are no different from games on ordinary platforms. During last semester, in the “3D Virtual Environments and Animation” class, our teacher Xueni Pan and Marco Gillies explained a lot of theory about Virtual Reality and some related psychological knowledge. This gave us a preliminary understanding of how to create a sense of presence in the virtual environment.”           

(From left to right) Hankun Yu, MA VR&AR student & Programme developer,
Yaqi Chen, MA VR&AR student & UX Designer,
Chaojing Li, MA VR&AR student & UX Designer,
Shuai Xu, MFA Computational Art Student & Visual Designer

Group 3

What was the project?

The group focused on virtual reality object interaction and eye tracking technology and how to combine the two to work together. In their programme cubes are thrown onto a mechanical belt like you would see in a factory, the user must stack the cubes onto each other, the challenge is that when the user looks directly at the area where the cubes are their vision is blocked, so they must use their peripheral vision to complete the task.

What is unique about your project

Nima Jamalian said “for our project we reversed the use of eye tracking technology. In majority of application that uses eye tracking the focus is on where user eyes are looking at however in our application we reversed it, the progamme checks if the player is not looking and only then the user can perform the task – so we sort of track where the player is not looking.”


Magdalena Nuspahic – Goldsmiths student, MA Virtual and Augmented Reality
Elisavet Koliniati – Goldsmiths Strudent Computational Arts student / Architect
Andrea Fiorucci – Goldsmiths graduate in Games Programming
Nima Jamalian – Goldsmiths Student PhD in Computer Science
Johannes Tscharn – Goldsmiths Student MSc Virtual and Augmented Reality

CareerHack – the traditional careers fair reinvented

This week we ran our second CareerHack event in partnership with Hacksmiths.

What is CareerHack?

CareerHack is a career & developer event where attendees spend 4 hours competing challenges in teams, showing off their skills to potential employers.

Challenges tested technical skills, with things like building an interactive game, as well as employability skills, like writing a personal profile and skills section for your CV to get students to think about the resources they need when heading into the working world. Employers are there to let the students know more about working at their organisations.

It’s a collaboration between the Department of Computing, Hacksmiths (our student-led tech society), our Careers Department and employers.

Our employer partners, Goodboy Digital; Lewisham Homes; Richmond & Wandsworth Council; and Scored provided challenges to the hack and were judges, working their way around the 8 teams of students and awarding points.

We wanted to look at new ways of employers and students interacting and piloted the event last year to great success, including one student getting a placement and another applying successfully for a full time position on graduation.

Employer feedback from last year’s event:

“much more useful than a “traditional” careers fair.” 

“being able to watch your students do actual engineering as opposed to just talking about it was really helpful (I was able to flag a number of final year students to our recruitment team as people whose applications should be expedited, if they choose to apply).”

We’re now pulling together feedback from the CareerHack this week and will start planning for next year! Well done to the winning team.

If you’re interested in working with our students on other innovative events, talks, placements and lots more, please contact Eilidh Macdonald.

Push, Pop, Repeat – Pop-up exhibition

Written by Clémence Debaig, student in MA Computational Arts. Find out more about the students work on The MA/MFA Computational Arts Blog.


One night, 350+ visitors, 80+ students, 130+ pieces

Push, Pop, Repeat is the first pop-up exhibition of this year’s cohort – presenting works from the MA in Computational Arts and the MA in Independent Games and Playable Experience Design. On Wednesday the 22nd of January 2020, more than 350 visitors have had the opportunity to discover more than 130 artworks. 

Most students in the programme had no, or very little, programming experience when they joined in October. After only 10 weeks on the course they are already producing high quality interactive pieces, adding computing to their art practice. The exhibition hosted an incredible variety of works produced at the end of the first term, from generative projection-mapped pieces to physical computing installations. 

Selected works

Selecting works amongst more than 130 pieces is an almost impossible task, but the following pieces particularly grabbed the attention of the visitors. This selection also aims at showcasing the diversity of the projects presented during the pop-up.


Amor Serrano by Alesandra Miro Quesada

Interactive installation – Physical Computing 1

https://vimeo.com/387408452

Amor Serrano tells the story of domestic violence in the Andes. Two testimonies of survivors have been recorded and translated from Spanish to English and Quechua (native Andean language). This piece pushes the audience to face the epidemic of feminicide happening in Peru and create discourse on this topic.

Technical details:  The circuit includes 6 capacitive sensors, each soldered onto a long copper wire braided inside 6 foot long hair extensions. When touching the hair, it triggers different audio tracks. Each of them narrating a testimony of a domestic abuse survivor.


A cartography of the inside out by Jakob Jennerholm Hammar

Poster – Programming for artists and designers


The program draws structures in time, continually growing over a scarce landscape. A fictional world filled with fictional habitats for fictional inhabitants is created. The work tries out ideas of mapping an interiority and turning it inside out to see what it says about it’s exteriority, or the other way around. Some important influences where gathered from cartography and architectural plans and drawings as a way of understanding and visualizing relationality. Others where graphical notation or visual scoring as a way of working with duration and events in time.

Technical details: The artwork is generated by a program written in Processing. Noise functions and pseudo randomness as well as recursion and fractals are some of the techniques used in the generative process. Printed on A2 sized wallpaper material.


Blurred Democracy by Camila Colussi

Interactive Installation – Physical Computing 1

Blurring boundaries. Blurred democracy. Two vibrating motors are connected to the word “democracy” written in copper wire. The motors react to sound. Light is reactive to distance. As you walk away, lights turn chaotic. As you get closer, lights turn on completely. The piece was created in reference to the current Chilean revolution (October 2019-present), which main massage of fight is “Until dignity becomes habit” (“Hasta que la dignidad se haga costumbre”). Until today, serious human rights violations had taken place. Sound recording: “No son 30 pesos, son 46 años”, A las Cacerolas, Colectiva 22bits. 

Technical details: The piece is a sound-light interactive sculpture, using 2 vibrating motors, a proximity sensor and led strip lights.


_chreeb.dampGrass by Keir Clyne

Interactive system and performance – Physical Computing 1 + Programming for artists and designers

_chreeb.dampGrass is a choreographic collaboration between a human user and a virtual dancer. Through the use of a specialist controller and a virtual avatar named “_chreeb”, the creative control of the improvised choreography switches between the human and non-human participants.

Technical details: The system for this performance has been made using a Processing sketch connected to an Arduino controller. The controller itself is made of several arcade buttons, LED’s and toggle switches all housed in a cardboard casing


Tantum Duck by Mattia Spagnuolo

Audiovisual performance – Advanced Audio-Visual Processing

Tantum Duck is a Hand-controlled Audio-Visual Synthesizer. By mixing computer vision, sound synthesis and mathematical visual shapes the goal was to create an instrument that allows the performer to control both audio and visual parameters at the same time. A constant correlation between the audio and visual outputs is implemented to allow the performer to focus on the sonic and visual details of his/her performance without worrying about keeping them harmonic, as they will always be. 

Technical details: The system has been realised in openFrameworks, using computer vision and color tracking to identify the controls and using frequency and amplitude modulation (FM and AM) for the sound synthesis. To follow the chaotic nature of the sounds, the visuals are based on the chaotic map Aizawa Attractor. A chaotic map is a system of differential equations whose apparently-random states of disorder and irregularities are governed by deterministic laws that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, meaning that a small change to any of its coefficients, will result in a substantial change in its output.


Automata by Clémence Debaig

Interactive wearable and performance – Physical Computing 1

AUTOMATA is a performance device allowing the dancer to move elements of the outfit by his/her movements.⁠ This piece explores the relationship between puppeteer and object, and the transfer of agency between the two. Is the dancer moving to manipulate the objects or is the movement of the objects influencing the dancer. Who is controlling who?⁠

Technical details: The dancer is wearing an accelerometer on the right arm and another one the left leg. The values received on the accelerometers control the movement of 7 servos placed on the outfit, moving mechanical parts. 3 “flowers” and the left shoulder pad are controlled by the right arm. 2 other “flowers” are controlled by the left leg.⁠⁠ Particular attention has been put on the analysis of the acceleration values on each axis (X, Y, Z) to determine with one to use and set different thresholds for each servo.⁠


X Y Plotter Drawing Machine by Chia Yang Chang

Installation – Physical Computing 1

Drawing machines have been explored for a while but it is still a recurring theme to observe the differences in drawing between Robot and Human. Drawing is a way to express one’s humanity. However, would it be possible for robots to express the essence of being a robot through drawing? This project is presented more as an experiment than an artwork, aiming at reflecting on the meaning of what the essence of a robot is and observing the similarities between human and robot.

Technical details: The drawing machine is using an Arduino and a Processing sketch, connected via serial. The Processing sketch extracts vector points from an SVG file and then sends it to the Arduino to define the position of the pen.


The Chicken of Tomorrow by Annina Huhtala

Projection mapping – Workshops in creative coding

The Chicken of Tomorrow is a projection mapping work devoted to chicken. Combining archive video material and the latest research, it tells the brief story of a bird turned into a commodity. The visuals plays with naïve form and bright colours, yolk yellow, egg white and wattle red. They represent our simple attitude towards chicken. The piece begins with a nostalgic clip of children playing with fluffy chicks. According to studies, we now struggle to consider chicken as animals.

Technical details: The work was created in openFrameworks, mixing generative graphics, typography and videos.

A day in the life: Zala

Zala is a Year 1, BSc Creative Computing student at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Progressing from the well-established secondary school routine to a completely new independent and self-initiated university one, is a rather big change, but so is moving from a town of 100 000 people to a city with a population 4-times the size of my whole home country. Here is how I spend an average weekday in my new life.

Establishing a morning routine

Although my days differ due to my varied timetable, having an established morning routine gives them some structure, which I believe is vital to maintain my productivity and motivation. Since this term none of my classes begin before 12 and I live nearly on campus, I do not have to rush to wake up early in the morning and usually wake up around 8 after, hopefully, a good amount of sleep. I put on a jumper and head straight into our flat kitchen to make some breakfast. After changing and stretching a bit, I opt between going to the library or staying at home to catch up with lectures or work on projects.

Lectures, labs, tutorials

Then come the lectures. After spending the majority of the first term learning the fundamentals of computing and programming, we’re now starting to specialise by taking classes such as Generative Drawing, Graphics, Sounds and Signals and developing an independent creative project, which seems like it’s going to challenge us and our way of thinking quite a bit. As we’re just at the start of the new term, I’m not quite sure what’s in store for us for each specific module, although after having the first lecture of Generative drawing, I’m positive it is going to be one of my favourite classes. For a visual person as I am, Graphics sound interesting as well.

Finishing the Day

As most of my classes finish in the late afternoon, that does not leave me with much time before the evening. On days when I do have extra time, I might head to the campus gym, attend a society meeting/social or go to any event that Goldsmiths’ organises and I find interesting. By the time I get back, my flatmates are in as well and we spend our evenings eating and chatting in our kitchen, which serves as our main social space. We also might head to a pub or on occasion a party. I end my day by reading, watching a movie or talking with friends and family from back home.

Then, we repeat.

Student Profile: Jannat

Hey there! I’m Jannat, I’m from Italy, I came to Italy from Bangladesh when I was younger. I am 18 years old and I am currently studying Computer Science at Goldsmiths.

Why I came to Goldsmiths to study Computer Science 

Before coming to this fun university, I was an A-level student. I studied Maths, Computer Science, Biology and Italian. It may seem a bit of a weird combination, however, I was interested in finding similarities and differences between Artificial Intelligence and humans so I chose Computer Science and Biology.  

I chose to do Maths as I believe it is fundamental when it comes to doing any science or technology subjects. I did Italian because I did not want to forget it if I left Italy and because I love learning new languages.  

I decided to study Computer Science for my degree because I have been very interested in tech since I was young, especially programming and AI. I chose to come to Goldsmiths because I felt like they helped me to recognize my potential, even at the interview where we have talked about my A levels, what I’m currently working on and about my future.  

What I am studying 

My experience so far at Goldsmiths has been amazing. The staff and students are nice and always make me feel included. The course is fun, we get to learn through various activities during our lectures and seminars such as using Kahoot or debugging codes… 

This term we have done 4 modules: 

  • Fundamentals of Computer Science 
  • Numerical maths 
  • Programming  
  • Web development 

Currently, I am working on my individual website which is worth 60% of my marks. I am making a website about the city of Venice and its history. The content includes advice on the places you should visit and which shops you should check out if you visit. I am also working on the last stage of my games project, which very exciting as the extension requires us to add either an enemy, platform, advanced graphics or sound to our game.  

My plan for the future 

For the rest of this academic year, we will carry on studying Fundamentals of Computer Science and Programming, and start two new topics, Problem Solving and Symbolic Maths.  

Once I graduate, my plan is to work as a programmer, but I would also like to explore different sectors such as cybersecurity and AI. I also aim to visit countries where children receive poor education and do charity work with them as much as I can.  

Goldsmiths undergraduate projects presented at CHI Play

Dr Sarah Wiseman, programme leader for BSc Games Programming, reports on two student projects which were presented at the Chi Play conference in Barcelona this October.

In their last year at Goldsmiths, our undergraduate students design and deliver their final year project, which runs through the course of two terms. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn new skills and explore in depth the areas of computing that are of particular interest to them.

Often these project result in games or software being produced, but sometimes the students are able to conduct research in conjunction with that development.

In our graduating class of 2019, two such students produced work that was of such high quality that it was recognised at an international academic conference. As a result, the work of Kevin Lewis (BSc Creative Computing) and Rees Morris (BSc Games Programming) was presented at CHI Play conference in Barcelona last week.

Kevin’s work looked at how technology can affect the way that social deduction games are played.

Kevin Lewis shows his thumbs

If you’ve ever played the games Werewolf or Mafia, you’ll know that social deduction games involve you needing to determine who amongst your fellow players are lying, and who you can trust.

In Kevin’s game, an app provided players with facts about how the players were playing – who had lied, who was being more trustworthy – and explored whether players trusted the app or their own instincts more. Instincts won.

Rees’s work focused on Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs).

Rees was unable to attend the conference, so his supervisor Dr Sarah Wiseman took his place

MOBAs are incredibly popular, and the eSports scene around them is worth a massive amount of money. MOBAs are interesting from a games perspective as often players will dedicate time to online one game in the genre because of the amount of time required to become expert and acquire the in-game items.

As part of Rees’s final project, not only did he create a MOBA, but he also conducted a comprehensive survey of MOBA players to find out why they chose the particular MOBA they were interested in. Surprisingly, players didn’t often cite the game play itself, but more commonly chose the game based upon social connections, wanting to play with their friends.

Well done to Kevin and Rees!

The papers can be found here:

Tea & Testing ☕️🎮

On Monday 14 October, games students from across the department came together for our very first ‘Tea & Testing’ session.

Created by games lecturer Alan Zucconi, the event is an opportunity for students in different years and on different courses to test out their games, and explore the games that are being made by their fellow students. What’s more, there’s tea and biscuits, an important part of the testing process.

As a bonus addition to the first session, a guest visitor was invited.
Award-winning game developer Alan Hazelden came along to get some feedback on a new game he is developing. The room was buzzing and many different weird and wonderful games were played, and plenty of chatting and mingling alongside.

The event highlighted that alcohol isn’t a necessary ingredient for testing sessions. Alan Zucconi said “Most social events that give students an opportunity to playtest their games tend to revolve around pubs, which are rarely accessible and not always promoters of an inclusive environment.

“The people who don’t feel comfortable in those environments are the ones we need to hear the most. The idea to switch to tea instead is to provide students with a safer and more inclusive space.”

If you’re interested in attending the next session – either because you have a game you would like to playtest, or because you want to play some games – the next sessions are….

  • Goldsmiths library, 3pm-6pm Friday 8 November
  • Room 219, Whitehead Building, 5pm-7pm Monday 25 November