This summer I have had a great opportunity to be an intern at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) in Cambridge, MA. This is not only a great prospect for my professional career, but also a chance to experience how working in a real company looks like.
MERL is a daughter company of the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation from Japan and therefore they have close collaboration. As the name implies, it is a research facility where people work on many different areas, such as digital communications, multimedia, user interfaces, speech interaction, mechatronics and many others. Their overwhelming publications page just confirms how important research is in this institution.
As a MERL intern, I am a member of the speech group. My advisor here is Bret Harsham and for this summer we have been working on testing an in-car speech user interface which was developed here at MERL. This interface enables contacts, music and points-of-interest selection using voice commands. The experiments will be concerned with the influence this interface may have on driving performance and will be performed on their driving simulator (shown in the picture below).
The driving simulator is based on a racing game simulation and consists of three huge DLP projector screens which create a very wide field-of-view, force feedback steering wheel and pedals, and a motion chair. The motion chair is very powerful, because it simulates the vibrations caused by road surface and engine, as well as the tilting of the car caused by acceleration and deceleration. The feeling it produces is very realistic and it may help prevent simulator sickness which was so common in our simulator studies.
We are looking forward to publishing the results of this interesting study. So, stay tuned for more info on this topic.