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College of Human Ecology

Lindsay Clark co-creates PowerCat Enhanced app

Friday, January 14, 2011

An app called PowerCat Enhanced turns a smart phone into an interactive map and GPS showing information about and directions to locations on the K-State Manhattan, Salina and Olathe campuses.

Lindsay Clark

ATID assistant professor Lindsay Clark

Lindsay Clark, assistant professor of apparel, textiles and interior design, and Jan Elsasser, director of information management for the Division of Student Life., created the downloadable technology using Layar, an open-source, cross-platform, augmented reality parent program.

Augmented reality is a term referring to elements in the live, real-world environment being enhanced by virtual computer-generated imagery. For a demonstration, visit K-State's Augmented Reality website.

PowerCat Enhanced shows students and visitors how to find a building or a class, where they can eat and where they can park.

"Essentially, the K-State layer shows real-time images on the phone's screen through the camera lens, and then overlays a 3-D map of information on top of that," Clark said. This interactive map shows the user where various points of interest are in relation to their location and in the direction the phone is being held.

For each point of interest, an information box appears with the name of the location, the distance to it, and a small thumbnail image of the building and departments located inside, if applicable. Users can choose to click a "take me there" button that gives a map and directions of how to reach that point of interest, much like a GPS in cars, Clark said.

To date, PowerCat Enhanced includes more than 100 points of interest, including academic buildings, administrative offices, housing and dining locations and parking lots.

PowerCat Enhanced users must have either an iPhone 3GS or above or a smart phone running the Android platform. Since the parent program, Layar, requires a phone have a GPS, camera, compass and accelerometer, phones without these components will be unable to correctly utilize the program.

To download PowerCat Enhanced, search for "Layar" in either iPhone's App Store or Droid's Android Market. Download and install Layar when it appears. It's a free app.

"We're proud that K-State is among the first universities in the nation to use this augmented reality app for our prospective students, new students and visitors," said Kirk Schulz, K-State president. "This is exactly the kind of forward thinking that will enable us to become a top 50 public research university by 2025."

Prepared by K-State communications and marketing and Human Ecology communications

This article was posted on Friday, January 14, 2011, and is filed under Apparel, Textiles, & Interior Design, College News.