Baris Unver was born in Istanbul, Turkey, where he began coding and building electronic systems as a young teen. He attended the Kuleli Military High School and Turkish Military Academy, receiving a BSc in systems engineering, before embarking on twelve years of military service in the Turkish Gendarmerie’s Signals Corps. He then studied for an MSc in information technology at Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey and is now enrolled as a Ph.D. student in computer science at the University of Minnesota, where he is focusing on human-computer interaction within GroupLens Research.
HP: Can you describe the project you are working on at HP Labs this summer?
I am working on projector camera systems, like the HP Sprout, which is the only pro-cam system on the market. Pro-cam systems have both video conferencing and a shared “live” stage that each party can work in, so each person can draw or play with objects on that stage as they work together. I’m interested in seeing how we can reinforce social relations with these systems and also enhance workspace collaboration and distance learning. This summer, I’m working with my Ph.D. advisor, Professor Lana Yarosh, and Dr. Alex Thayer in HP’s Immersive Experiences Lab to build an app that lets pro-cam systems interact with people who only have access to a PC or mobile device.
HP: So you’ve come to the right place!
That’s right. We already use the HP Sprout in our lab at the University of Minnesota. Without it, we’d have to build much less robust prototypes ourselves that would be expensive and hard to deploy in the field. We’ve already built ShareTable, an app for Sprout-to-Sprout collaboration. What I’m interested in now is extending that research to situations where people at one end of the conversation don’t have access to a full pro-cam system.
HP: How has the work been going?
Our application is ready and is about to go into the Sprout app marketplace. The next step is then to see how it works for users. Does it improve their long distance workspace collaborations? Does it make them feel more present or connected with the people on the other device? We should start getting some data in the next few weeks.
HP: How will you use the results?
They’re going to allow us to build better overall systems. We know that pro-cam systems themselves offer improved long-distance workspace collaboration, but not everyone has access to an HP Sprout right now. This helps us understand how users interact in these asymmetric situations, what their benefits and limitations are, and what the best use cases for them might be.
HP: What would you say are the benefits of interning at HP Labs?
One of the greatest benefits is the colleagues you have here. I’m learning new things from them every day. You can learn a lot from fellow students and your professors at university, but there’s not the same spirit of collaboration.
HP: What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m interested in entrepreneurship and I’m also a CMAS three star scuba diver, which means I can supervise other divers in open water. The lakes in Minnesota are very muddy, so I’m excited to get some diving in here on the coast of California before I go back!