UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With technology like virtual reality and augmented reality growing in popularity, students like College of Information Sciences and Technology senior Adlan Ramly are helping to advance these interactive experiences at Penn State and around the world.
Ramly is president of the Penn State Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality (AR/VR) Labs, where he organizes students to circulate knowledge and utilize new technologies in the emerging world of virtual reality.
“We are currently working on two projects: a collaborative game platform for museums and a gesture-based home assistant for people with hearing and speech disabilities. We are always open for new members to participate in projects which will be useful for filling up their resume,” said Ramly.
The club has participated in five hackathons, managed three student teams for AR/VR competitions and held workshops for development.
Ramly has showcased his interests in many other ways on campus, including twice advancing to the final round of the IdeaMakers Challenge, a University-wide challenge during Penn State Startup Week that tests and guides student teams through the process of pitching their early-stage entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of industry experts. He also won best VR Hack and was second place winner overall in last year’s HackPSU competition, a 24-hour social coding event.
Since then, he’s been creating his own augmented reality game platform for museums, called explorAR, using Google’s ARCore that seeks to gamify the museum experience through the use of 3D imaging and an AR smartphone application. His poster for the game was featured in Asian HCI Symposium under CHI 2018 conference in Montreal, Canada, where he presented earlier this year.
Despite his efforts across campus, Ramly’s work doesn’t end at Penn State. This past summer, Ramly worked as a user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) engineer intern at Toge Productions in his home country of Indonesia. There, he also served as a consultant for video game production, making laptop UX/UI improvements for five Toge Productions games prior to their release and conducting user surveys on how to improve each program.
“We have game demos at the booth and it was very interesting to see people’s first impressions of the games that Toge Productions has made,” said Ramly. He said he learned a lot about the gaming industry, and manned a booth in Game Prime Asia, an event at which the company received the Best Publisher award.
Also in Indonesia, Ramly participated in Google Developers Group Indonesia, where he held two workshops and events at Google I/O Extended 2018, an annual developer-focused conference that showcases how to build web, mobile and enterprise applications.
“I talked and shared my knowledge about augmented reality design and development using Google’s ARCore in Jakarta and Bogor,” said Ramly. “It was truly one of the greatest experiences I’ve had.”
One of the video games Ramly helped to develop at Toge Productions is the interactive game Coffee Talk, a heart-to-heart chat simulator that involves listening to people's problems and helping them by making recipe suggestions for coffee-based drinks out of ingredients they have on hand. The developers said the game’s goal is "to depict lives as humanly as possible, while having a cast that is more than just humans."
“Coffee Talk features visual aesthetics that are inspired by ’90s anime, classic pixel art adventure games and the chill imageries often associated with chillhop music,” said Ramly.
While he has developed his technical experience across the globe, he is gaining critical skills in the College of IST that he hopes will propel him in his future career. He served as a UX designer and research assistant at Penn State, where he focused on retention issues for Massive Open Online Courses. He also served as an undergraduate research assistant in the College of IST’s human-computer interaction lab.
Ramly explained how his global success has been fueled by what he’s learned through the College of IST, including an internship through Happy Valley Launchbox with Rain Reality, a student-led startup founded at Penn State, and lessons from professors with industry experience
“I think I learned the most from Alison Murphy's classes,” said Ramly. “I found the design thinking, entrepreneurship, and the final capstone design class very applicable to multiple roles. I found research methods and usability testing very useful.”
Ramly advises students who are looking to follow their passion for interactive experiences to be more creative and start working on solo projects to discover their specific interests. Since he is graduating this semester, he said he also is looking for full-time jobs that focus on UX/UI Design, AR/VR Development, or Human Computer Interaction Research which accept international students.
“I find doing self-projects to be very helpful because you can add projects to your portfolio for interested employers, and at the same time narrow down your true interests,” he concluded.